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First Soviet Plane Since 1967 Lands in Israel; Brings Russian Clerics

May 18, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Patriarch Pimen of the Russian Orthodox Church arrived here at noon today with an entourage of 17 clergymen and interpreters on the first Soviet plane to land in Israel since Moscow broke diplomatic relations in June, 1967. The Patriarch arrived on an Illyushin-18 jet, placed at his disposal by the Soviet government, on the last leg of a hour that had already covered Cairo, Damascus, Beirut and Sofia.

The jet was serviced on the ground by Israeli technicians and resumed its European itinerary. It will return in four days to take the entourage back to the USSR. Patriarch Pimen went directly to Jerusalem, where he was the guest of Patriarch Benedictos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church there.

The Pimen visit was proclaimed “days of sorrow” by the (White) Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, based in New York. The entourage was described as “servants of the USSR anti-religious government on whose conscience are tens of millions of martyred and murdered laymen and clergymen.” Israel recognized the Soviet-based church some years ago and turned church property over to the Moscow Patriarchate. Jordan, however, has not done so; and the White Russian Church continues functioning on the West Bank, where Jordanian law prevails.

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