ATHENS, June 30 (Itar-Tass) - There are no religious motives behind the abductions of people, including the clergy, in Syria. It is pure banditry, Sergei Zheleznyak, a deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house who lead the Russian delegation to the 20th General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), told journalists on Sunday.
When asked to comment on media allegations that the Christian metropolitans in Syria were abducted by Chechen gunmen, Zheleznyak said it was secret to no one that “terrorist groups in the North Caucasus included representatives from extremist groups from all around the globe who got there across our southern borders.” “I am sure that these people who cannot do anything but to kill will be involved in such activities in any hotbeds of tension,” he said. “It only proves that neither religious values nor political positions are behind these conflicts and terrorism. It is pure banditry and we should treat it like banditry. Hence, no measures to support banditry under whatever pretexts can be acceptable for us.”
The Russian lawmakers called to better inform the world community because “it is quite probable that state bodies of certain countries are playing into the hands of these armed groups proceeding from their political tasks, but we see that these are very dangerous games, this Pandora’s box inevitably brings evil to their own land.” “We saw that even behind the recent acts of terror in the United States were people who had been trained in guerilla camps sponsored by Western countries,” Zheleznyak noted. “ It is absolutely na·ve, and I would say, unwise, to hope that terrorists you are training for other countries would not in the long run reach you.”
He noted the “surprisingly obstinate and tough” position of a Canadian lawmaker who suggested that the a special action committee be immediately set up and measures be elaborated not only to exert public and political pressure but also to impose economic sanctions. “We asked him to elaborate his proposals in detail because the task in not to invent any sanctions or separate decisions but to formulate a systemic approach to solving the existing conflicts, including armed conflicts, in many countries,” he stressed.
Two Christian metropolitans, Metropolitan Paul Azigi of the Antioch Orthodox Church and the Syriac Jacobite Metroplitan Yohanna Ibrahim, were abducted by rebels near Aleppo on April 22. In its statement circulated by the SANA news agency, the Syrian ministry of religious endowments placed the responsibility for the abduction of the Christian metropolitans on Chechen contractors. “It has been established that Chechen contractors, who are acting under the cover of the fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra Front, are behind this barbaric act,” the statement said.