Religious Freedom Issues
Putin Wants a Political Dialogue with Vatican, 1/30/2003
Moscow - The Russian Federation would like to engage in "a political dialogue" with the Vatican, says President Vladimir Putin.
The leader made his comment today when he received the letters of
credence of Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the new Vatican representative
in Russia.

"Russia pronounces itself in favor of developing a political dialogue
with the Vatican," Putin said.

"We are convinced that our bilateral relations will contribute to
resolve difficult questions" that the international community must
address, such as terrorism, he emphasized.

Previously, Archbishop Mennini had been apostolic nuncio in Bulgaria,
where he fostered good relations with the country's Orthodox Church,
organizing the papal visit last May.

Russian authorities have expelled Catholic Bishop Jerzy Mazur of St.
Joseph's in Irkutsk, in Siberia, and seven priests, denying them
residence permits. The expulsions took place after John Paul II
established four new dioceses last February in federation lands.