Duma refuses to restrict coverage of Pope's death

Moscow, Russia - The Russian parliament today rejected the proposal to restrict the coverage of death of Pope John Paul II over country's TV channels.

Referring to coverage of the Pontiff's death on all the TV channels, lawmaker Alexei Mitrofanov of ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, said Russia is an Orthodox Christian country and there was no need to 'propagate' Catholic faith and its traditions.

Only 98 members of the 450-strong Duma supported Mitrofanov's call.

Pope John Paul II, who was became head of the Roman Catholic Church at the height of the Cold War, was very keen to visit Russia to reconcile over five-century-old split with the Orthodox Church.

However, in spite of the standing invitations from ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, the Pope could not visit Russia due to opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church, insisting on Vatican's promise not carryout its missionary work and conversion on the traditionally orthodox territories in the former Russian Empire.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Chief of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, Metropolitan Kirill are to attend the Pope's funeral on Friday.