Bishop: ethnic Russians discriminated against in south Russia

Church Domes with Crosses file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 31 (Interfax) – A senior Russian Orthodox bishop has claimed that Russian speakers “often suffer ethnic and religious discrimination” in regions in Russia’s North Caucasus where they are in the minority.

“We are used to thinking that it is only smaller ethnic groups that need protection. That is not true. In many of the republics (of Russia), Russians form minorities, which often suffer ethnic and religious discrimination,” Metropolitan Kirill of Stavropol and Nevinnomyssk and head of the synodal committee for liaison with the Cossack community, told a meeting in Moscow on Thursday of the World Russian People’s Council.

“Uncontrolled processes of migration, ethnic conflicts that are often artificially portrayed as trivial rows, lack of jobs, and low education and healthcare standards force Russian speakers to leave their homes and move to other regions,” Kirill said.

“It is important to realize that the solution of burning problems that beset Russians in the Caucasus will give an impetus to the development and peaceful existence of the other ethnic groups,” he said.

He criticized people vested with authority – “what they have received their high office from the state for, is not to hide from their voters and their problems, but, to address them.”

He also said the Orthodox Church would boycott a planned “Congress of Slavs” in Stavropol on Saturday. There are many “pagans” in the region and some of them will attend the congress, he said. Moreover, there will also be nationalists there, some of them from Ukraine, the metropolitan said.