The Russian government is sceptical with regard to the initiative of some members of the Federation Council (upper house of the Russian parliament) to hand over three million hectares of state lands to the Russian Orthodox Church.
As Alexei Volin, deputy head of the government's apparatus, told reporters on Wednesday, under the Constitution Russia is a secular state, and the church cannot have any economic privileges.
Secondly, he pointed out, there is a great number of confessions in Russia, and it would be unjust to create special economic conditions for one of them.
Thirdly, it would be recalled, the practice with the church business in alcohol and tobacco caused a great number of questions to which no exhaustive answers have been received so far.
Finally, remarked the official spokesman for the government, the transfer of state lands to the Russian Orthodox Church "will contradict the Bible which says: Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.
Europe which is panic-stricken over the consequences of rising energy and food prices could strike a treacherous blow to Ukraine this winter, writes Simon Tisdall for The Guardian.