KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Ukrainian Jewish leaders and representatives of other religious organizations praised progress in the state’s communication with them.
The remarks came at a meeting Monday with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Kiev, during which the leaders asked the government to resolve a number of their problems.
“This is the first time that we actually see the results of our meetings with a prime minister of Ukraine and actually have gotten results from a meeting," said Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine and the chairman of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, who headed the meeting with Tymoshenko. "For example, we praise the Ukrainian government for signing into law a measure providing permanent land use for religious organizations.”
The council proposed that religious organizations be given the right to lease land without holding auctions and that the government open a visa-free regime for 180 days for religious leaders from other countries.
Religious leaders also asked the government to grant their organizations the right to establish educational institutions that could issue state diplomas. The council also called for the adoption of a law banning the privatization, sale and ownership transfer of religious buildings and their complexes that are now owned by the state.
Dr. Yuriy Reshetnikov, chairman of the State Committee of Ukraine for Nationalities and Religions, told JTA that the Ukrainian government will work to resolve the issues and support religious organizations’ activities in Ukraine.
“The process of the restitution of religious property is in progress,” Reshetnikov said.