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President Putin meets religious leaders to counter terrorism

Nine religious leaders, including Pastor Vasily Stolyar, Seventh-day Adventist Church president for West Russia, were part of a September 29 summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which the state leader called on pastors to help stop terrorist activities by promoting tolerance and understanding.

The meeting, held in the Kremlin's famed "Catherine's Hall," was the first involving religious leaders with President Putin in three years, Pastor Stolyar noted.

"Your words and actions are extremely important in the current situation, when the criminals are trying to direct anger at the people of another faith and ethnicity," Putin told the delegates. "I would like to stress that a major aim of the unprecedented series of terrorist attacks ... was to drive a wedge between the Muslim world and representatives of other faiths," the president added.

President Putin "expressed the desire to cooperate with religious leaders and he sincerely hopes they can help in the consolidation of civil society. He said he considers spiritual mentorship and preaching of the high moral guidelines very important, and that the best economic reforms and the best political aims could not be reached without education in spirituality," Stolyar said.

Stolyar also noted that Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Alexey II, said "the main confessions of Russia were represented" in the meting, which offers a tacit recognition of the Protestant churches as well.

Other church leaders attending included Metropolitan Andrian of the Orthodox Old Believers Church; Pandito Hambo Lama, the 25th, Damba Ayusheyev of the Buddhist community; Bishop Ezras of the Armenian Apostolic Church; Ravil Gainutdin of the Islamic Council of Mufti; Metropolit Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia; Rabbi Berl Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia; and Bishop Sergei Ryakhovsky, Chairman of the
Russian Pentecostal Union.

APD

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