The Words of the Krylov Family

Interfaith Harmony Week Commemorated in Russian Cities

Konstantin Krylov
February 9, 2012
UPF -- Russia

A variety of activities commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week took place in cities throughout Russia, including Moscow, Kondopoga, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Ryazan, St. Petersburg, Tula, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg.

Representatives of the Russian Association of Orthodox Brotherhoods and Georgian Orthodox Church as well as Protestants, Muslims, and leaders of grassroots organizations assembled in Moscow on February 4 to commemorate World Interfaith Harmony Week. Honored Artist of the Russian Federation Vladimir Frolov welcomed the participants.

The theme of "Inter-religious cooperation as an instrument for building a culture of peace in Eurasia" brought together many experts in the sphere of religion, representatives of grassroots organizations, and people in positions of power. A historian and student of religion, Valery Emelyanov, in his report about harmony between the Abrahamic faiths emphasized the importance of a positive attitude and putting theory into practice. Also, the attention of the audience was drawn by the speech of Olga Ezhkova, leader of the club "World towards a better life"; she told about a new interfaith calendar that is underway; it will help representatives of different walks of life, confessions, genders, age, nationalities, cultures, worldviews, and philosophies better understand and value each other, exchange information, communicate and make friends, enrich themselves with new knowledge, and expand their views about the world as the eternally developing structure created by One God. The keynote speaker, Konstantin Krylov, head of UPF-Russia, shared about the recent conference in Seoul that included a World Interfaith Harmony Week commemoration and other programs to be held in the coming year.

The majority of guests had no inclination to leave after the inspiring event ended; for a long time they discussed ideas for future interactions, with a deep feeling that their joint efforts for creating a culture of peace are greatly needed at this time.

UPF-Russia also participated in the World Interfaith Harmony Week program on February 7 at the Moscow House of Nationalities of the Moscow city government.


The third Open Festival of Spiritual Music, initiated by officials of the Kondopoga municipal district and Kondopoga Center of Culture and Entertainment sponsored by the State Committee of National Policy and Relations with Grassroots and Religious Organizations of Kondopoga, took place on February 11 in Kondopoga, in the northwestern tip of Russia. Among the participants of the festival related to the World Interfaith Harmony Week were choirs and soloists from Kondopoga, Petrozavodsk, and Medvezhegorsk; choirs from the Church of the Holy Martyrs Vera, Nadezhda, Lyubov, and Sofia and their mother parish from Yanishpole, Kondopoga region; the Kondopoga Evangelical Lutheran Church; the New Life Kondopoga Pentecostal Church; and the Alexander-Nevsky Cathedral of Petrozavodsk.

Ambassador for Peace Olga Meshkova, the Head Specialist in Public Relations Administration of the Kondopoga Region and organizer of the event, stressed that spiritual music is not only a heritage of religious people but it also has deep national roots. It is a well spring of spirituality and the origin of morality. This is why, now in its third year, the Festival involves many choirs and enjoys the support of people who are interested in the promotion of spiritual enlightenment and preservation of morals and national culture. Among them are prize winners of many contests: the Academic Choir of the Arts Palace (Kondopoga joint stock company), Academic Choir of Petrozavodsk State University, Svir Chamber Orthodox Choir, women's choir of the Karelia State Pedagogical Academy, Raspev men's vocal ensemble of spiritual and secular music, Kudelyushka folklore choir and folklore group from Petrozavodsk, and Vdokhnovenye academic women's choir from Medvezhegorsk.

One of the primary tasks of the Festival is giving the public and young generation access to the centuries-old traditions of spiritual music. Thus two children's choirs participated: the Scarlet Sails Children's Concert Choir from the Palace of Culture (Kondopoga joint-stock company, led by N.A. Abramkina) and the Kondopoga Children's Music School (led by Natalya Kil). They performed music of the composers Gliere, Durante, Banevich, and Marchenko.

In addition to music, the festival included poetic invocations that inspired prayerful and spiritual communication with God offered by a parishioner of the Lutheran parish, Elvira Kolyadich. The old tradition of performing Orthodox music a cappella (without accompaniment) was presented by the Kudelyushka Folk Group from Petrozavodsk, who performed the hymn "Monk in a Desert" and a spiritual canticle "Don't Lose Your Heart" as a part of the widely known chant "The Purest Virgin." Folk and Christmas carols were performed for the audience by the famous Kondopoga folk group Vechorka.

A big ovation of the audience was evoked by the hymn of the Lutheran parish performed by the pastor, Vadim Lysenko, and the author of the poetry and music, Natalya Vengerova. The MC of the concert, Honored Worker of Arts of the Karelian Republic, Galina Kokorina, and the senior pastor of the New Life Church, Yuriy Ivanov, created an atmosphere of goodness and mutual understanding. Thanks to it, the two parts of the concert were absolute successes and evoked the warm appreciation of the audience. At the end of the Festival, all participants received gifts with the emblem of the Festival and certificates of participation.


Ambassadors for Peace from Novosibirsk together with the Universal Peace Federation held a round-table discussion on "Interfaith Cooperation as an instrument of creating a culture of peace in Russia: the necessity of a new apprehension of values" on February 4.

It was the first meeting in this format; the objective of the round table was to acquaint representatives of different religions with each other and start interfaith cooperation. Among participants were representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Center of the Vedic Culture, International Scientific School of Universology, Center of Spiritual Development – Evangelical Lutheran community of Novosibirsk, the NGO "ZHITO," the City of Light, Unification Church, "Food for Life," the NGO "Star of Transfiguration", the NGO "Rainbow of Life," and the "Moral Russia" movement.

At first, everyone observed a minute of silence in commemoration of the victims of interfaith strife and atheistic regimes. Then, the participants watched a five-minute film "From Heart to Heart" about the Middle East Peace Initiative. Dmitry Oficerov presented the UPF proposal for an interfaith council within the UN. He stimulated people to look for new approaches to developing inter-religious cooperation.

Evgeny Bryndin, leader of "Moral Russia" in Novosibirsk, shared his idea about developing by common efforts the human spiritual potential: all knowledge about spiritual values should be manifested in practice, but few people are ready for it. It is important that the spiritual consciousness of a human being develop based on spiritual values; it will help people a positive personal character.

Lelekova Maria, representative of the International Scientific School of Universology, reminded the participants about the cause-effect relation that motivated the appearance of religions: "Inside our soul we can feel what is false and what is true. In each religion there were pioneers who brought a crystal-clear new wave that defined a special role for that particular religion in the world. And if something exists, there are special reasons for its existence."

Konstantin Kozlov, representative of Vaishnavism, proposed simple practical steps: "We should develop interfaith dialogue; to begin with, let us stop treating followers of other religions as enemies. We could unite in carrying out simple joint events. For example, we could organize an interfaith community work day. If people cannot understand our spiritual practices, they will at least recognize our practical good deeds."

Pyotr Nikolaichev, chair of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said: "No matter to what confession we may belong, if we live according to the laws of the Holy Scriptures (Bible, Qur'an, Vedas, etc.), we will multiply goodness in this world." He also called upon participants to share their experience in promoting stable families as the most important value in all religions.

Valentina Volkova, representative of the Brahma Kumaris Center of Spiritual Development, said "I feel happy that we, representatives of different confessions, are like-minded people. A healthy body, healthy soul, and healthy community – these objectives can be achieved only with the harmony of body and soul.

Kukhar Artur, pastor of the Unification Church in Novosibirsk, also spoke about the family as a model of peaceful interaction between different religions: "All people are brothers and sisters! This is such is a simple truth. People may be followers of different religions, but still we all are brothers and sisters."

The participants decided to donate blood for sick people and unite in a prayer for peace. As a result, donations of blood were given on February 6.

To complete the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, many of the participants in the round table joined in an inter-religious "Prayer for Peace" at the office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Novosibirsk on February 7.

The meeting was opened by spiritual hymns and welcoming words. Inter-religious harmony was symbolized by a ceremony of making a bouquet. On an improvised altar was placed a beautiful vase filled with crystal clear water. Representatives of different religious traditions said words promoting harmony, followed by prayers and meditations for universal peace and inter-religious harmony. Each speaker completed his or her speech by taking up one of the prepared flowers and putting it into the vase. Water symbolized God's love that impregnates all religions. Finally the participants made a big and beautiful bouquet.

They expressed their hope that in the coming year more and more religious people will join in inter-religious dialogue. The desire for communication among people of different faiths was given the following expression: "Let God's love unite us like the water that feeds all flowers."


An "Hour of Running" in Ryazan on February 5 promoted the World Interfaith Harmony Week. While running in public spaces throughout the city, activists handed out fliers with excerpts of UN GA Resolution #65/5, explaining the need of inter-religious cooperation. They asked people's opinion about the resolution: the majority of respondents supported the idea of inter-religious harmonious relations and world peace; nobody had heard about World Interfaith Harmony Week until then.

A women's meeting on February 6 focused on "Constructive feminine elements that help create harmony between different religions and cultures." Among the participants were representatives of Islam, Christianity, and Unificationism. Participants discussed issues about women's contributions in religious and cultural spheres. A study of sacred texts reveals that a woman was often described as a cause of historical conflicts. Consequently, women have an important role in solving conflicts. The meeting closed with a reading from a speech by Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, founder of the Women's Federation for World Peace: "Today history summons us to move towards peace, reconciliation, love, compassion, service, and self-sacrifice. In this century, the existing problems cannot be solved by men's logic of power; they should be solved by women's logic of love."

St. Petersburg

The cultural capital of Russia and home of notable Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist places of worship, St. Petersburg has the potential to become a "city of interfaith harmony," according to local UPF organizers. With this vision, they hosted a Religious Youth Service project in the city January 24-27 commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week. To read the report, click here.


A discussion about "Faith and Family" took place on February 5 initiated by UPF-Vladivostok. The meeting was opened by Pyotr Tarasov, who talked about World Interfaith Harmony Week, emphasizing the moral mission of preachers of different religions and religious traditions to educate people in peace, tolerance, and mutual understanding. The key report was delivered by Ivan Marychev, leader of UPF-Far East. First of all, he told about the UPF programs and projects in the past three months and shared about the International Leadership Conference recently held in South Korea. In the second part of his speech, he explained how religion can contribute to creating stable and happy families.

Vladimir Kuzmin shared his experience of his life in faith in connection with his family. In his mind, one indispensable condition for creating good families is trust in God and the mutual commitment of spouses to constructively solve problems in their interpersonal relations.

During the general discussion, each participant shared his or her reflections concerning the theme of the meeting. It's important to underline that in general opinion, true faith and spirituality in the families make key contributions to their development and have a positive impact on the world around, including both community and nature. At the end of the meeting, many of the participants expressed interest in initiatives that promote harmonious families and world peace.


Since September 2009 religious people have been holding monthly meetings in Yekaterinburg to offer joint prayers for the common benefit of all people. The project for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 was "Towards Peace through Faith." It included a series of events in different formats aimed at promoting interaction and harmony between the different religions that exist in this city. Each meeting was unique, enabling participants to enrich their life experience with knowledge about the traditions, spiritual and cultural heritage, and historical impact of different religions and spiritual movements.

On January 29, participants met a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Siberia in the parish of Sts. Paul and Peter. Father Sergey, pastor of the parish, told the guests about Martin Luther and the beginning of Protestantism in the sixteenth century. It was interesting to learn that Lutherans played a role in development of Yekaterinburg. One of the city's founders, a war engineer, expert in mining, and companion-in-arms of Peter the Great, Georg Wilhelm de Hennin, was a Lutheran.

On February 2, participants visited the Center of Jewish Culture and became acquainted with the history of Judaism. The guide told about the multifaceted activity of the Center in promoting interaction, mutual support, and solidarity among the Jewish community. They were shown the prayer hall and the place where scrolls of Torah are kept. Some of the participants were agreeably surprised to learning that in Judaism, women are given a very high position because they are closer to God.

On February 4, they got acquainted with the teaching that emerged in South Asia and expanded in South-East Asia and the Far East. Since ancient times, Buddhism has been active in eastern Siberia (Buryatia and Tyva) and southern Russia (Kalmykia). The Yekaterinburg Buddhist Center of Meditation has been in existence more than 20 years. After visiting the Buddhist Center of the Diamond Way, in the Karma Kaghyu tradition, participants learned about the philosophy of Buddhism and they joined in meditation.

The project was named "Project-Journey: Towards Peace through Faith" so that followers of different religions could learn more about each other's religious practices. Such meetings can reveal moral aspects of similarities and differences and the characteristic of religious teachings. The project seeks to help people understand that in the modern world of close inter-ethnic and intercultural interconnections, belief in God and spiritual practices should not divide people; on the contrary, they can create personal moral foundations for peaceful relations, friendship, and cooperation. Adherents of different confessions and spiritual schools came together in a cozy hall of the Grand Hotel Avenue on February 5 to pray for peace and mutual understanding and learn about about inter-religious cooperation in different cities and countries. Participants were invited to consider how they might help reduce inter-religious confrontation and promote the establishment of an inter-religious council at the UN. Representatives of different religious teachings read passages from their sacred scriptures that encourage people to respect and accept followers of other religions. They recited uplifting poetry, sang songs, and listened to instrumental music. Especially impressive for the audience was the address by Jews. They read sacred texts, said prayers, and chanted both in Russian and ancient Hebrew; at the end of the evening they performed a national dance as a gift to the audience.

UPF volunteers led a "Cup of Love and Trust" ceremony. The emcee of the program reminded the participants about the symbolical meaning of water, and then followers of different religions took up small vessels filled with water and each in turn pronounced words of love and benevolence over them. Then they poured the water into one common cup. The poetry that accompanied the ceremony gave it a special touch of sincerity and tenderness. The emcee wished all to keep these warm feelings, which could sustain them during days of hardships (if they come) and inspire them to persevere in the way of peacemaking.

There were about 30 people representing Christianity, Judaism, oriental teachings, Unification Church, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Noosphere Spiritual Society, Peace Assembly, Sri Chinmoy, Roerich, Ringing Cedars, and Golden Book.

At the end of the evening, the participants signed an appeal to people of good will urging them to resolve internal strife and controversies in their families and communities and lay the foundation to end strife on the international, inter-religious, and interstate levels. The appeal concluded with these words: "Let mercy extinguish flames of hatred, and let forgiveness conquer vindictiveness."

An Hour of Running

"An Hour of Running" linked to World Interfaith Harmony Week was held in Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Ryazan, Tula, and other cities on February 5. These periodic runs take place in along streets and in parks to promote worthy causes, inspired by the enthusiasm of vigorous youth in support of a healthy and active lifestyle.

Participants included not only those who love sports but also those who support such ideals as friendship, mutual understanding, and mutual respect between people of different walks of life and followers of different religions. The day was remarkably frosty, even for normally cold-resistant Russians. (Temperatures that day ranged from -13o to -18o centigrade.) But with a strong spirit and inspired by such lofty ideals, runners handed out leaflets with information about World Interfaith Harmony Week. In Ryazan, activists polled passers-by, in Moscow they promoted giving blood donations, and in Nizhny Novgorod the runners inspired pedestrians in the city center.

Here are reflections by some of participants:

Nikita, 31: I decided to run, because I'm always running for health. Personal example is very important for promotion of healthy life style. In my childhood I saw my friend running in the morning with his dog, and following his example I also went in for sports. My two other neighbors watching me also became keen on running. Very significant and supportive was the slogan of this day's activity: "For religious harmony." The weather was beautiful – frosty and sunny. In my opinion, the idea to organize "An Hour of Running" and involve people from different religions was good and timely.

Leonid, 25: I regularly participate in "An Hour of Running." I like running. Of course, merely running will not change life in the city, but the activity will expand. It is important now to create a group of enthusiasts. Concerning interfaith harmony, judging by the situation in the world, conflicts usually arise based on inter-religious controversies. For example, in Yugoslavia, Christians and Muslims could not resolve their disagreements and as the result, the country collapsed. Without ongoing inter-religious dialogue, it can be difficult to preserve peaceful atmosphere in the nation; therefore, we need to invest all our efforts promote interfaith dialogue.

Svetlana, 24: Generally I am not very keen on running; I just support the idea of inter-religious friendship. It is very urgent. We gave out brochures to the passers-by; generally people smiled back and took the booklets willingly. It was a pity that the supply ran out. Many people showed interest in our activity: teenagers, the elderly, foreign students, local residents, and even tourists. People wanted to know what was going on; some of them joined us in running and inquired when the next run was scheduled. I didn't expect such a reaction. People usually are not very enthusiastic about such activities and it was really very frosty. But somehow we were able to attract their interest. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library