Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia has expressed himself for an early overcoming of the church schism in Ukraine and the reunion of the separated religious groups with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has sent a message to President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine, thanking him for his personal participation in the recent celebrations of the 950th anniversary of the Orthodox shrine -- the Kiev-Pechersky Monastery. The message points out that the anniversary celebrations were attended by representatives of practically all Local Orthodox Churches. This confirmed the fact that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate "unites the majority of Orthodox believers of Ukraine and has been recognized as the sole canonical Church of the country, the entire Orthodox world," stressed Alexis II. The Patriarch supported the Ukrainian President's call "not to allow a politization of Church problems." The Patriarch is convinced that the church schism "may be cured only by church means, rather than by political ones." The restoration of religious unity will open the way to a further discussion of the future status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, said Patriarch Alexis II.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea