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Meeting of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Organisations

May 12, 2016, The Kremlin, Moscow

Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov chaired a meeting of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Organisations.

Representatives of religious organisations, federal government bodies, scholars and experts discussed issues concerning Russia’s role in protecting the rights of religious believers in today’s world.

In his remarks at the meeting, Mr Ivanov said that there is a crisis today in guaranteeing religious freedoms in military conflict zones and in areas controlled by terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa, where Christians and members of other religious groups, including followers of moderate Islam, have had their rights violated. Mr Ivanov also noted the rise in religious xenophobia in a number of Western countries and said that the worrying trends we see today in the world call for an adequate and immediate response.

The meeting’s participants expressed their concern at the situation in Ukraine, where active discussion is underway on legislative initiatives to limit the activities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate. At the same time, seizures of this church’s houses of worship continue, accompanied by acts of aggression against clergy and parishioners.

The meeting’s participants highlighted Russia’s unique experience of peaceful coexistence and mutually respectful dialogue between diverse ethnic groups and religions, and said this experience could serve as an example for the entire international community.

The Council members also expressed their support for the joint declaration of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis following their meeting in Cuba. This declaration calls for a restoration of peace, and efforts to save religious believers in military conflict zones and protect the religious foundations of civilisation.

May 12, 2016, The Kremlin, Moscow