A congress of compatriots living abroad began in Moscow Thursday in the Column Hall of the Union's House. Participating in the congress are Russian president Vladimir Putin, representatives of government, of the Federation Council, of the State Duma and of Russian Orthodox Church. We are united by one all-embracing feeling--that we are compatriots, Russia's Vice Premier Viktor Khristenko said opening the congress. In his words, the congress involves over 600 compatriots from the CIS countries, Baltic states and foreign countries. According to the Ministry of the Federation Affairs, 23-25 million Russian citizens are currently living abroad. The congress participants will have the chance to speak about the program of support for Russian compatriots abroad, drafted by the ministry. Proceeding from their remarks and suggestions, the document will be upgraded and submitted to the government.