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    PUTIN, KUCHMA COME OUT FOR UNITY OF ORTHODOX CHURCH

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    KIEV, January 24, 2004. /RIA Novosti/. Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Leonid Kuchma come out for the unity of the Orthodox Church.

    On Saturday Vladimir Putin met with hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Vladimir, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, welcomed the Russian leader.

    Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma took part in the meeting.

    The Russian leader thanked them for the chance to visit the Lavra and gave them the brotherly regards of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexis II. According to Putin, Alexis II has a residence in the most ancient building of the Kremlin and Moscow.

    "After radical historic changes in the 1990s the role and importance of the Orthodox Church has grown a lot," the Russian President stressed.

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