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Russian Minister Says Can't Stop Xenophobia Alone --> Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) 20 January 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that his ministry can't solve all the problems concerning xenophopia and intolerance in Russia.

Lavrov made the remarks today at a meeting in Moscow with Russia's chief rabbi, Berl Lazar.

Lavrov said the root causes of xenophobia are deeper than law-enforcement agencies can cope with. He said better education could help address the problem.

"This is a phenomenon [xenophobia] that requires the government, religious groups, and public organizations to pay more serious attention to the education of society," Lavrov said.

Lazar told Lavrov that he sees an emerging sentiment of hatred against Jews and other ethnic minorities in Russia.

The meeting comes after a knife-wielding Russian youth broke into a Moscow synagogue and wounded eight people on 11 January. The attack spurred Russia's Jewish community to call on authorities to do more to prevent such incidents from happening.


Panel On Religious Freedom

Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrating Orthodox Christmas (CTK, file photo)

RELIGION AND SOCIETY: On December 21, 2005, RFE/RL's Washington office hosted a panel discussion on issues related to religious freedom in the former Soviet Union. Panelists included CATHERINE COSMAN, a senior policy analyst for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; FELIX CORLEY, editor of the Forum 18 News Service; and JOHN KINAHAN, Forum 18 assistant editor.
Cosman argued in her presentation that the Russian Orthodox Church receives preferential treatment from the government. She also expressed concern about the estimated 50,000 skinheads active in Russia. Corley focused on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, arguing that many governments in the region "fear institutions they can't control." Kinahan's presentation concentrates on the Uzbek government's assertions that Islamist extremists were behind the May uprising in Andijon.


Listen to the complete panel discussion (about 90 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media

See also:

Central Asia: Region Returns To Muslim Roots

Central Asia: Regional Leaders Try to Control Islam

Unholy Alliance? Nationalism And The Russian Orthodox Church

THE COMPLETE STORY: A thematic webpage devoted to issues of religious tolerance in RFE/RL's broadcast region and around the globe.