Separatists Use Peaceful Residents Of Chechnya As Live Shield - Patriarch Alexii Ii

Patriarch Alexii II of Moscow and All Russia declares that "the Church is doing its utmost for the restoration of peace and tranquillity on the much-suffering land of Chechnya." According to the press-service of the Moscow Patriarchate's foreign church relations department, this is an excerpt from Alexii II's message to the peaceful residents of Chechnya. The message notes that the Russian Orthodox Church shares the concern about the situation in the Northern Caucasus. The Patriarch is convinced that "the state is taking resolute steps only for the sake of stopping criminal activity of the numerous terrorist groups operating on the Russian territory." The Patriarch noted that "regretfully, this goes hand in hand with bloodsheds involving victims, sufferings and human grief." In the Patriarch's opinion, "there is reason to believe that the gunmen have used the peaceful residents of Chechnya as a shield." The Patriarch's message was issued in reply to an appeal addressed to him by 24 scientists, public leaders, representatives of the Muslim clergy who are well known in the republic

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