Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Although we meet on a regular basis, our meeting today is on the eve of a major Jewish holiday, Hanuka. I would like to congratulate you, the entire Jewish community in Russia, all those who profess Judaism and everyone who cherishes the cultural traditions of the Jewish people.
I know very well that the community’s leaders and religious figures are doing a great deal not only to solve the Jewish community’s problems but also to enhance inter-ethnic and inter-faith harmony in the country.
Russia is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith country and its cultural variety is one of its strengths, which means that it must be cared for and, if necessary, defended. No one should doubt this. Such a policy has been and will be pursued in the future.
I believe that it is important that Russian society has demonstrated on many occasions that it is not prepared to tolerate xenophobia in any form or anything that interferes with our country’s consolidation as a multi-ethnic state and its development as a member of modern society. The Jewish community and religious figures are doing a great deal to this end. I would like to thank you for this work.
I recall our joint work at the opening of the Jewish Cultural Centre in Moscow, probably the biggest of its kind in Eastern Europe. I know that you plan to set up a Russian Jewish Museum.
I would be interested to hear your plans in the social and religious area, and if you need any support from the state in this sphere.