• (Photo: AP / ITAR-TASS, Vladimir Rodionov, Preside
    President Vladimir Putin greets Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, left, as Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, center, and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, right, look on at a world summit of religious leaders in Moscow, Monday, July 3, 2006. Vladimir Putin urged religious leaders meeting here to counter what he said were efforts to set Christians and Muslims against each other, warning that a potential clash of civilizations could bring disaster.
By Clara Morris, Christian Post Contributor
February 12, 2012|8:59 pm

The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church has told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this week of the urgent situation Christians are facing around the world in persecution hot spots, and has asked him to use his power to aid their situations.

RT online reported that Metropolitan Hilarion, foreign relation chief of the Russian Orthodox Church presented evidence and statistics that stated, "Every five minutes one Christian was dying for his or her faith in some part of the word."

Christians face persecution in many nations; from church demolition in Afghanistan and bombings of churches in Iraq, to the violence against Christians taking place in rebellious towns in Syria.

After delivering the facts, Metropolitan Hilarion asked Putin to make protection and defense of Christianity around the globe a major part of his foreign policy.

And, as reported by Interfax, Putin replied, "You needn't have any doubt that that's the way it will be," assuring Hilarion that Russian foreign policy would defend Christians from persecution abroad.

Putin's recent actions seem to confirm his promise. Last week, Putin vetoed a U.N. motion calling for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to step down. Syrian Christians received this as good news. Assad is of the Alawite sect of Islam. Alawites and Christians are both religious minorities in Syria. Syrian Christians feel that sharing this minority status means Assad will provide them with protection. A Syrian Christian woman even told The Global Post, "Thank God for Russia. Without Russia we are doomed."

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Putin has long been a supporter of Christianity and Christian values within Russia. He has called for the Church to play a larger role in citizens' social lives, better religion classes in schools, and television programs emphasizing religious values.