12/27/2010, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Patriarch Kirill: restricting immigration exacerbates ethnic tensions

by Nina Achmatova
The Moscow Patriarchate intervenes on the climate of increasing xenophobia in Moscow. Civil society acts against the violence between nationalists and Caucasians.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The inter-ethnic intolerance in Moscow continues to be one of the main problems on religious and political agenda. As the Kremlin tries to keep track of xenophobic trends against the people from the Caucasus and the reprisal of immigrants – which on 11 December erupted into veritable urban war in the capital city – the Patriarch of Moscow has also intervened calling for calm.

"The Orthodox faithful - Kirill told the Assembly of the diocesan clergy of Moscow - should become pioneers in overcoming interethnic tensions. We are called to be good model of Christian attitude to all without exception, to those who need our help, care and sympathy " The Russian Orthodox Patriarch stressed that "the idea of national superiority (invoked by nationalist groups and often backed by authorities, ed) is alien" to Orthodoxy as well as hostility to representatives of other religions."

Kirill said that crime and violence among immigrants stem not from the evil inherent in every person, but often "from despair and injustice." He condemned the tougher rules to curb immigration as a tool to combat inter-ethnic tensions: "In this way, the most painful questions remain unanswered and it only generates new problems."

Meanwhile, civil society has responded to the escalation of xenophobia experienced in the last two weeks from Moscow. Intellectuals, common people, artists and human rights activists gathered in a demonstration titled "Moscow for all" in the central Pushkin Square on December 26.

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