The meeting addressed issues pertaining to protecting the lives and rights of believers in military conflict zones. Mr Ivanov noted that complex processes in the Middle East and North Africa have led to the destruction of the ethnic and religious balance and a significant increase in religious extremism. According to the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, this resulted from short-sighted policies by several western nations. Religious minorities in the East have found themselves very vulnerable, hundreds of temples have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people have left their homes. People remaining in the regions controlled by radicals live under constant fear of being killed.
Mr Ivanov also noted that the unlawful regime change that occurred in February 2014 in Ukraine led to a serious outbreak in radicalism, massive violations of the law, religious intolerance and violence against believers. Over 60 attacks on temples and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church occurred with full connivance from the authorities, Mr Ivanov stressed.
The Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office also emphasised that such a situation in the Middle East and Ukraine would have been impossible if social and political problems had been resolved by way of dialogue and without external interference from the very beginning.
The meeting also addressed Russian religious organisations’ plans to participate in preparing and holding celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945. Mr Ivanov noted the importance of religious organisations’ input into this historical Victory. Traditional religions did this setting aside all historical grievances and injustices they had suffered and put the national interests ahead of their own, Mr Ivanov stated. Today, the traditional religions play an important role in preserving the historic memory and helping instil patriotic values in young people.
In addition, the meeting participants discussed the results of the Council for Interethnic Relations Presidium meeting, held in Yaroslavl in October with participation by members of the Council for Coordination with Religious Organisations, which addressed the development of Russian identity.