Russian Patriarch Condemns 'Immoral' Anti-AIDS Programs
<div class="caption"><div class="watermark"> <a href="http://gdb.rferl.org/F8F76942-499B-4ECA-9284-5552C053779F_mw800_mh600.jpg" rel="ibox" title="Aleksy II, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (file photo) (epa)"> <img alt="Aleksy II, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (file photo) (epa)" src="http://gdb.rferl.org/F8F76942-499B-4ECA-9284-5552C053779F_w203.jpg" class="photo" border="0"></a></div><p>Aleksy II, patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (file photo) (epa)</p></div>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.