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Training centers to prepare priests for Russian army

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - Training centres to prepare priests for deployment to Russian military units will open in the near future, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said on Tuesday.

He added that in the mean time the Russian Orthodox Church would allocate chaplains to serve in the army on the regular basis.

The centres will prepare priests for their military posts in three months.

Kirill also said that due to an "uneven" number of priests in the European part of Russia, some of them would be forced to relocate.

In July 2009, after a meeting with the heads of Russia's main confessions, President Dmitry Medvedev supported a project to restore full-scale military priesthood, which existed from the 18th century to the start of the Soviet era.

According to the Russian defense ministry, two thirds of the country's servicemen consider themselves religious. Some 83% of them are Orthodox Christians, about 8% are Muslims, and 9% represent other confessions.

There are about 400 priests currently serving at Russia's military bases. A quarter of them hold military awards for serving in hot spots.

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