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Aleksy II, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (file photo) (epa)
April 20, 2006 -- The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksy II, today criticized Western-funded programs aimed at combatting HIV and AIDS, calling them immoral and inconsistent with Russian culture.
In a letter to President Vladimir Putin, Aleksy wrote that Western nongovernmental organizations are running their programs in the interests of Western producers of contraceptives.
The letter comes on the eve of a meeting of Russian regional leaders devoted to AIDS. Some 355,000 Russians are officially registered as HIV-positive, but the real figure may well be higher.
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