Russian News Agency Hit for Distorting Interview

Interfax Altered Kondrusiewicz´s Comments

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MOSCOW, MAR. 30, 2001 ( A news agency deliberately altered a Catholic leader´s comments in a recent interview, in what the bishops´ conference calls a clear sign that the Russian media are untrustworthy.

An official statement of the Russian Catholic bishops´ conference affirms that Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, apostolic administrator of Catholics in Northern European Russia, was unfairly treated by the Interfax agency.

In the interview, some excerpts of which were published by ZENIT on March 23, Moscow´s Catholic archbishop was referring to violent incidents which occurred in Ukraine in the early 1990s, especially in the Lvov Diocese. That is when, in keeping with the law, Greek-Catholics began to recover some of the temples expropriated by Stalin in 1944 and handed over to the Orthodox Church.

The archbishop complained that his comments were altered by Interfax agency in its news account.

The archbishop condemned «violent methods as a means of re-establishing historical justice.» But he never blamed those acts of violence on Greek-Catholics.

In fact, he contended, Interfax censured even more important words, as he had said: «Similar controversies [between Greek-Catholics and Orthodox] must be resolved in Ukraine; on the contrary, categoric affirmations of people living abroad, in Russia, Poland, Italy, only aggravate the situation. In particular, I feel authorized to judge this, as I don´t live in Ukraine, and I have not been there for a long time.»

The archbishop denied having said that «at the beginning of the ´90s, the Greek-Catholics destroyed three dioceses in Western Ukraine, taking possession of hundreds of Orthodox churches.»

This «highly emotional» affirmation «seems obvious to Interfax´s correspondent, as it is widespread in Russia, but I do not share it,» Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said.

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