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06KIEV1061, UKRAINE: AMBASSADOR’S INTERFAITH DIALOGUE

March 17, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1061 2006-03-17 15:12 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

UNCLAS KIEV 001061 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PGOV SOCI
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: AMBASSADOR'S INTERFAITH DIALOGUE 
LUNCH 

(U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Please handle 
accordingly.  Not for Internet distribution. 

Summary 
------- 

1. (SBU) At a February 27 lunch hosted by Ambassador 
(that included prominent clergymen, M.P.s, think- 
tankers and journalists), participants in a recent 
International Visitors Leadership Program on interfaith 
dialogue praised the quality of their program.  They 
had been impressed, in particular, with examples of how 
different religious communities worked together in the 
U.S. to address pressing social issues.  Echoing the 
views of many of the guests, M.P. Volodymyr Stretovych 
noted that, in terms of religious freedom, Ukraine had 
made a great deal of progress since independence. 
Stretovych also argued that, like other European 
countries, Ukraine needed a unified, national church; 
such a church had existed in Ukraine prior to the 1654 
Treaty of Pereyaslav, but had been subjugated by the 
Russian Orthodox Church.  The former head of the 
Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and current 
Tymoshenko campaign chief, Oleksandr Turchynov, 
disputed that assertion.  Turchynov, who is an ordained 
Baptist minister, stressed that one of Ukraine's great 
strengths was its tolerance and diversity; no single 
denomination lorded it over society.  End summary. 

Interfaith Dialogue Lunch 
------------------------- 

2. (U) Ambassador hosted a February 27 interfaith 
dialogue lunch that brought together leading clergymen, 
the head of the State Department for Religious Affairs, 
two prominent M.P.s, as well as a leading journalist 
and think-tanker who focus on IRF issues. 

Three Cheers for IV Program 
--------------------------- 

3. (U) Five of the clergymen were participants in a 
recent International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) 
on interfaith dialogue.  They spent much of the lunch 
recapping the trip for the other guests, effusively 
praising ECA for the quality of the schedule and 
meetings.  They stressed that they had been impressed, 
in particular, with examples of how different religious 
communities worked together in the U.S. to address 
social issues like homelessness, AIDS, and at-risk 
children.  The Muslim member of the IVP group, Kharkiv 
Imam Rustam Gafuri, specifically thanked Ambassador for 
including him and for "paying attention" to the 
concerns of Ukraine's Muslims. 

Much IRF Progress Since Independence... 
--------------------------------------- 

4. (U) Echoing the views of many of the guests, M.P. 
and Christian Democratic Party leader Volodymyr 
Stretovych noted that, in terms of religious freedom, 
Ukraine had made a great deal of progress since 
independence.  Countering the effects of 70-plus years 
of militant Soviet atheism was difficult.  Stretovych 
argued that, like other European countries, Ukraine 
needed a unified, national church; such a church had 
existed in Ukraine prior to the 1654 Treaty of 
Pereyaslav, but had been subjugated by the Russian 
Orthodox Church, he explained. 

..."But" 
-------- 

5. (SBU) While seconding Stretovych's views on 
Ukraine's post-independence IRF progress, the former 
head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and 
current Tymoshenko campaign chief, Oleksandr Turchynov, 
disputed the assertion that Ukraine needed a national 
church.  Turchynov, an ordained Baptist minister, 
stressed that one of Ukraine's great strengths was its 
tolerance and diversity; no single denomination 
dominated society.  Turchynov, no friend of the 
Kremlin, quipped that if the State created a single, 
national church "we'll wind up looking like Russia or 
Belarus." 

Gwaltney

 

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