09/04/2004, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Ossetia: Aleksij II's sorrow in a letter to Putin

Moscow Patriarch condemns terrorism as "diabolic" and calls on Russians to show "courage and wisdom".

Moscow (Asianews) – Aleksij II, Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, expressed his condolences to the people of Ossetia for the school tragedy in Beslan calling on all Russians to support one another with "courage and wisdom".

In a telegram to Alexander Dzasokhov, North Ossetia's President, the Patriarch expressed his sadness and urged "all levels of government and all citizens to prevent the repeat of such tragedies" because "the future of the country depend on such efforts".

Aleksij II also sent a letter to President Putin in which he expressed his anguish over the school victims and praised the acts of heroism of the local population. Once again, as he did in recent days, the Patriarch condemned terrorism in no uncertain terms. For him it is something "diabolic".

Here are the main excerpts from his message:

"The unprecedented cruelty shown by these criminals –kidnappers of peaceful citizens, women and children– in the school, in Beslan, has shaken the whole world community. Having taken off its mask, terrorism has shown its diabolic face.

"Without respect for what is sacred, without fear of God, without any shame before the people, these so-called "freedom fighters" can raise hands reddened by the innocent blood of children.

"There is no and there never shall be any justification for such mad deeds.

"I know Mr President how much you, the members of the Russian government and other decision-makers have done to save human life. Those people offering themselves in exchange for the hostages are heroes and their action is proof that self-sacrificing love exists.

"The last few days were full of hard work and hope, but, in the end, the terrorist action could not avoid victimising so many people.

"The Russian Orthodox Church is in deep mourning for what happened and prays that the dead may now be at peace in heaven. At the same time, she prays that the wounded and injured heal and recover. May God Almighty give them strength and console them. Our duty –in particular that of the authorities– is to do all in our power to ease their pain." (AF)

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