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Ukraine Reaches out to Religions, Reversing Communist Suppression

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After decades of anti-religious propaganda and state-sponsored anti-Semitism under the former Communist regime, the Ukrainian government is now in the forefront of supporting religious revival and improving interfaith relations.

Nikolai Zhulinsky, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister for humanitarian problems, convened last week a Council for Religious Affairs, with representatives from all the leading religious organizations in attendance.

“The Ukrainian government has no desire or intention to politicize religion, and we sincerely hope that we can work with the leaders of all religious faiths,” Zhulinsky said in his introductory statement.

“It is especially important now, in these difficult economic times, that the religious leaders help preserve the morals of our country,” he later explained.

Responding to the overtures of the government, Ukrainian Chief Rabbi Yaakov Bleich said, “I think the fact that the government has resumed these meetings after such a long period is in itself a positive step that bodes well for the future.”

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