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Moldovan Premier Criticizes 'Church Involvement' In Politics

Former Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat

Former Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat

CHISINAU -- Moldova's pro-Western Prime Minister Vlad Filat today warned the country's pro-Russian Orthodox Church to stay out of politics, saying the church should not support a single political force, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

That warning may have been occasioned by a statement by former Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, who said the study of "orthodoxy" should be compulsory in schools. He wants a referendum to be held on adding that subject to school curriculums.

Pasat also announced last week that he will establish a political party with the main goal of promoting religion in schools and defending Orthodox

Moldova, a predominantly Christian Orthodox country, has two Orthodox Church organizations that are subordinate to metropolitans in Moscow and Bucharest, respectively.

The pro-Russian Mitropolia Moldovei last week endorsed Pasat's intention to begin a political party and said it will support it.

The Romanian-leaning Mitropolia Basarabiei has rejected both the idea of making the study of religion compulsory and Pasat's plan to set up a religious party.

Pasat wants his new party to participate in the upcoming early parliamentary elections, which are tentatively scheduled for November.