For his part, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, Patriarch Aleksy II, is actively encouraging the Church Abroad -- which has bishops in the United States, Germany, Australia, Russia, and elsewhere -- to end the long division.
Yet many church officials are wary about embracing the Russian Orthodox Church, noting that many clergy collaborated with the Soviet-era KGB secret police.
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.
LISTENListen to the complete panel discussion (about 90 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media
THE COMPLETE STORY: A thematic webpage devoted to issues of religious tolerance in RFE/RL's broadcast region and around the globe.