President Viktor Yanukovych has started a meeting with the leaders of Ukrainian churches and religious organizations. In his opening remarks, President Yanukovych congratulated Christian churches representatives on the coming Easter and religious Jews on the holiday of Passover, and thanked all the present for participating in today's meeting.

"For me it is an opportunity to express my sincere consideration to all of you and discuss the issues that exist in the church-state relations," he said.

"I am pleased to note the high level of cooperation between different religious organizations. First of all, it concerns the activities of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.

I would like to state my clear position: every citizen has the right to practice his own faith. The state does not interfere in the affairs of religious communities, treats them all with respect, and builds its relations with them exclusively upon the existing legal framework. It has been and will be so," he said.

"We are fully aware of the sensitivity of this area. We understand that there are speculations sometimes but these cases are rare. I think no one like that. Any incitement to unhealthy passions around the state-church relations has never done any good to anyone. Ukraine is a multi-religious country, therefore the policy in that area must be reasonable.

It aims to create favorable conditions for religious organizations and ensure equal rights and opportunities, and promotes tolerance and respect among the faithful," Viktor Yanukovych said.

After his brief speech, President Yanukovych has passed the floor to Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations Head, senior bishop of the Union of Free Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine Vasyl Raichynets


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