Representative of Russia's major religious denominations (Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism) unanimously stand against use of religion in election campaigns.
A statement to this effect was issued at the "Russia 2003: Elections and Religious Denominations" conference held in Moscow on Saturday.
"Any attempt to engage the Church in political struggle is tantamount to an effort to split the Church," stressed Vsevolod Chaplin, a deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Affairs.
He pointed out that the Russian Orthodox Church does not take any part in the political struggle, grants no blessing to priests encouraging the latter to participate in political parties or election campaigns, nor blesses leaders of any political parties for participation in elections.
"At the same time, - Chaplin said, - the Russian Orthodox Church is open for cooperation with any political party or movement working for the benefit of Russia and the Church". In this context, it is also vitally important for the Russian Orthodox Church to participate in international debates, Vsevolod Chaplin pointed out.
"Russian law forbids establishment of political parties on a religious or ethnic basis," reads the statement issued by the participants of the conference. "Yet the parties advocating a profound and constructive interdenominational dialogue and openly proclaiming traditional religious values as their priorities certainly deserve respect and approval".
The conference organized by the Eurasia party was attended by Russia's prominent politicians and political scientists as well as representatives of all the country's major faiths.
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