In Genève, Minister of Foreign Affairs S V Lavrov said, “Christians face persecution not only in the Middle East, but also in the Ukraine, where fratricidal war broke out in the wake of an anti-constitutional coup, as extremist nationalists stoked up sectarian strife”. Lavrov stated that extremists destroy Orthodox churches and monasteries, subjecting priests and believers to intimidation and harassment. In Novorossiya alone, they destroyed ten churches to the foundations and damaged another 77. He said, “They killed three Orthodox priests, and many more fled to Russia to escape extremist threats”.
He also said that we have to halt the exodus of Christians from the Middle East, noting that this might have “the most negative consequence in terms of its impact on the structure of Arab societies, and on our preservation of the historical and spiritual heritage of all mankind”. Lavrov noted that the crimes of ISIS and other extremist groups against Middle Eastern Christians have “all the signs of genocide. Entire cities, such as Mosul, completely lost their traditional Christian presence. In ISIS-controlled territory, jihadists commit terrible crimes, their obscurantism leads to violence… they kill Christians, including priests, burn them alive, sell them into slavery, plunder them, expel them from their native places, and use them as hostages”. Lavrov pointed up the situation in Syria, which was an exemplary model of peaceful and mutually respectful coexistence between different religious communities, “but that way of life is under threat as a result of the actions of extremist forces used [by the West] to fight against Bashar al-Assad’s government”.
3 March 2015