President Vladimir Putin: Your congress has begun today.
Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar: We are summing up the results of what has been done over recent years. What we can say today is that Jewish life here is developing dynamically. Our people are bringing about a revival of their culture, traditions and language. I think that this is in many ways thanks to your help and the help of your administration.
Vladimir Putin: We spoke at one of our previous meetings about the problems encountered by Jewish communities in the regions. As far as I know, in some cases progress has now been made – in Krasnoyarsk, Rostov-on-Don and Orenburg. According to the information I have, there have been positive developments.
Berl Lazar: We recently opened synagogues and community centres in the Far East – in Birobidzhan, in Khabarovsk and in Vladivostok. We returned to the Jewish community the buildings that once belonged to them and they are now working again. I think we can say that there is a generally positive tendency. Unfortunately, there are still regions where we come up against a lack of understanding. I hope that, with your help, a new understanding will emerge.
Vladimir Putin: We will work together. On the whole, how do you assess the cooperation between the different religions?
Berl Lazar: I see few countries today where Jews and Muslims have not only found a common language, but have also come to a common understanding and approach to the problems we face today, both within religion itself and, in particular, when it comes to issues such as terrorism and extremism. We all realise, unfortunately, that terrorists and extremists make cynical use of national and religious ideas in order to pursue aims that are alien to Russia and indeed alien to the entire world. I think that there really is a genuine understanding today between ourselves, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Muslim Community that we need to fight this struggle together and that with God’s help we will achieve a great victory.