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On September 4-5, 2017, the 2nd International Theological Conference entitled “The Spiritual Silky Way” took place in Tatarstan. The 1st Conference was held in the People’s Republic of China in July 2016.

The 2nd Conference was organized by the Russian Council of Muftis and the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation with support of President Rustam Minnikhanov of Tatarstan and the government of the republic. These conferences are a part of work of the Council for Interreligious Cooperation under the Russian-Chinese Committee of Friendship, Peace and Development, which unites representatives of traditional religions of Russia and China.

Among those taking part in the opening ceremony were President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov; special envoy of the Russian President for the Volga federal district Mikhail Babich; Tatarstan State Counsellor Mentimir Shaimiev, Tatarstan Prime Minister Alexei Pesoshin; chairman of the Tatarstan State Council Farid Mukhametshin and other officials; as well as leaders of the Muslim religious communities of Russia, including chairman of the Central Spiritual Boards of Muslims of Russia Talgat Tajuddin; chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Russian Federation Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin; chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and chairman of the Coordination Center of Muslims of the North Caucasus Ismail Haji Berdiyev; chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Tatarstan Mufti Kamil Hazrat Samigullin.

The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan and Tatarstan; Archpriest Alexy Chubakov, dean of the 1st district of the Kazan diocese; and Mr. Dmitry Petrovsky, a staff member of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations and secretary of the Russian part of the Council for Interreligious Cooperation.

At the beginning of the plenary session the participants were greeted by deputy head of the Presidential Administration for Domestic Policy Mikhail Belousov on behalf of the head of the Administration Sergei Kirienko, and by the Tatarstan vice premier Vasil Shakhraziev on behalf of President Minnikhanov.

Metropolitan Feofan addressed the participants, underscoring the necessity to abide to the laws given to people by the Creator since the deviation could lead humanity to self-destruction. He shared his reminiscences about his ministry in the North Caucasus, in the Holy Land and in some Arab countries. He said that he had warm recollections of these years when he could never imagine that anyone could offend him because of religious convictions as a follower of other religious belief.

Metropolitan Feofan noted a special contribution to the national oriental studies made by Archimandrite Iakinf (Bichurin), head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China and of Archimandrite Pallady (Kafarov) who were graduates of the Kazan Orthodox theological academy and seminary. He added: “The special role of Orthodoxy in the strengthening of Russian-Chinense friendship was played by the visit of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to China in 2013.”

Taking part in the session were Russian religious leaders, including muftis and theologians, heads of the Spiritual boards of Muslims of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, leaders of the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs, representatives of the state administration and committees for religious affairs of the Central Asian republics and of the leading secular and Islamic institutions of higher education of the region.

Maksat Toktomushev, Mufti of the Kyrgyz Republic and chairman of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Kyrgyz Republic noted the importance of such conferences and proposed to hold the next one in Kyrgyzstan.