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Estonian President Arnold Ruutel helped the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Estonian President Arnold Ruutel for his efforts in helping the Russian Orthodox Church to resume its activities in Estonia. The Estonian president is in Moscow on a private visit at the invitation of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II. During the meeting between President Ruutel and Patriarch Alexy II at the latter's suite of rooms in the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin joined in. The Russian president congratulated his Estonian counterpart on winning the prize For Outstanding Services in Promoting the Unity of Orthodox Peoples, awarded by the International Endowment for Unity of Orthodox Peoples. "I am very glad to see you and welcome you to Moscow. Congratulations on the award," Mr. Putin said and thanked Mr. Ruutel for the efforts that he had made to assist the Russian Orthodox Church in resuming its activities in Estonia. Touching on return of the Russian Orthodox Church's property in Estonia, the Russian president expressed his hopes for a successful settlement of such issues, as the relations between the two nations improve. Alexy II noted that "there remain unsettled issues" concerning the Church's activities in Estonia. "The memorandum of understanding on returning the property was signed but the issue has not been settled yet," he said. The patriarch highlighted the personal contribution by the Estonian president in having the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate registered in Estonia. Mr. Ruutel added that the settling of the property recovery issue had been hampered by "purely legal formalities [while] the decision has been made." The Estonian president reminded the two that the problem of the Russian Orthodox Church's presence in the country "was initially complicated enough." "We have managed to settle the issues [pertinent to] the Church," he said. Mr. Putin asked the patriarch how long he had lived in Estonia. Alexy II told him he had spent 26 years in Estonia as bishop and then archbishop and before that 11 years of his initiation. Alexy II lived in the city of Tartu for several years. Mr. Putin mentioned that he had been to the city several times. The informal meeting included an exchange of views on pressing issues of the Russian-Estonian relations, including the prospect of resolving a number of problems. In addition, the future 60th anniversary of the victory over Nazism was discussed, with close attention paid to the May 9, 2005 celebration in Moscow, to which the Estonian president was invited officially.
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