Alexy II Urges Duma to Consult Church

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II urged the State Duma on Friday to take the church's interests into account in lawmaking and defended religious education in schools.

Alexy II said the initial version of a bill on rallies had cast legal doubt on some of the church's rites by banning all street demonstrations after 11 p.m. "What about the Easter night procession?" he said at talks with deputies.

The Duma eventually amended the bill by making an exemption for religious proceedings and passed it in the final of three required readings Friday.

Alexy II urged deputies to consult with the church during lawmaking. "I would strongly ask you to take into account the interests of religious organizations while drafting bills dealing with issues of morals, education, land and taxation," he said.

He pushed for privileged conditions of using farmland, saying the church may help revive agricultural production.