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    RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL ON RUSSIA'S RESIDENTS TO TAKE PART IN ELECTIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 12, 2004 - RIA Novosti. Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia Ravil Gainutdin called upon all citizens of Russia to take part in the elections of the president of Russia.

    "Dear brothers and sisters, esteemed co-citizens, we are on the eve of an important event which will take place in our country. It is the election of the president of the Russian Federation," Alexy II said in his TV address to the citizens of Russia.

    "The Church is separated from the state. Neither church nor religious organizations engage in political struggle, but we are the citizens of our country and that is why it is our duty not to stand aside from the presidential elections and take an active part in them", the Patriarch said.

    He stressed that he was appealing to all the compatriots irrespective of their age and religion.

    "I call upon all our co-citizens: elderly and young, believers and atheists to come to the polling stations and make their choice so that each of us could feel his contribution to the building of our great motherland - Russia," the Patriarch said.

    "The day of electing the President of the Russian Federation is approaching and the fate of Russia is left in each citizen's hands. Our future, the future of our country, the well-being of our children and grandchildren depend on what will be our choice on that day," Ravil Gainutdin said in his turn.

    "The citizen cannot refuse from participation in deciding the fate of his Motherland. I call on you, dear compatriots, to make use of your right and make your choice for the sake of peace and stability, for unity and concord among the peoples coming to our country," said the Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia .

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