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MOSCOW, February 8 (Itar-Tass) — Authorities will not interfere in the affairs of church organizations or exert influence on the self-organization of religious associations, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday at a meeting with clerics of various confessions.
“We don’t have any plans to interfere in the affairs of religious organizations and we won’t do this under any circumstances,” he said. “This concerns in full measure the self-organization of religious communities, and I mean Islamic communities among them , too.”
“We won’t be pushing them towards any steps or influence the way they build up their self-organization in any way,” Putin said. “We won’t push them towards either splitting or deciding on consolidation because these are their internal affairs.”
The Chairman of the Council of Russian Muftis, Dr Ravil Gainutdin, complained at the meeting that Russia had only three federal Moslem organizations several years ago and now their number has increased to seven or eight.
“We’d like all the Moslems to be united and to work towards the country’s unity together with the national leadership,” Dr Gainutdin told Putin. “I think I can say we give you a mandate as a candidate for presidency to put your efforts into the spiritual unity of the nation rather than into its division.”
“The fractioning of Moslem religious organizations won’t help our religious community either to pool its rankgs together or to develop steadily,” DrGainutdin said.