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Russia: Tatar president warns against course on Orthodox basics to schools
Source: Tatar-Inform news agency, Kazan, in Russian 0755 gmt 5 Jan 03

On 5 January Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaymiyev met a delegation of the Kazan eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, led by Kazan and Tatarstan archbishop Anastasiy. It was Shaymiyev's traditional meeting with the clergy on the eve of Russian Orthodox Christmas, celebrated on 7 January.

Shaymiyev congratulated the clerics and all Orthodox believers, living in Tatarstan, on one of the major Christian holidays and wished them success, peace and accord.

There is no religious tension in the republic, Shaymiyev said. However, at times tension is artificially whipped up by narrow-minded politicians or some departments at the federal level, he said.

The possible introduction of the fundamentals of Orthodox Culture to schools in Russia was discussed at the meeting. Shaymiyev stressed that the peculiarity of the republic which has mainly Muslim population should be taken into account when such a decision is taken. Anastasiy shared the president's view.

A meeting attended by representatives of all faiths is to be held soon which will allow for a single approach to the problem to be worked out. If any proposals are dictated to Tatarstan from above, they will not be carried out, Shaymiyev warned.

The meeting was attended by other representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church in Tatarstan, head of the Tatar presidential administration Eksam Gubaydullin, deputy Tatar prime-minister Zilya Valeyeva, deputy chairman of the State Council Aleksey Demidov, Kazan mayor Kamil Iskhakov and Rinat Nabiyev, the head of the religious affairs committee under the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers.

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