On 7 May the Head of the Department of Interethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan Etibar Najafov visited the Holy Myrrhbearers Russian Orthodox Cathedral Church in Baku and got acquainted with the activities of the Orthodox Religious Cultural Centre situated in the yard of the church.

At the meeting Archbishop Alexander gave profound information on the history and activities of the Russian Orthodoxy in our country, expressed his high satisfaction with the care of the state for this religious institution and the ambiance of tolerance in our country. The Archbishop spoke of the close cooperation and the establishment of friendly relations with various religious institutions existing in our Republic, including the Caucasian Muslims Office, the Apostolic Prefecture Religious Organization of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Azerbaijan, Alban Udi Christian Religious Community, Jewish communities and others.

In his turn, Etibar Najafov spoke of the National Leader Heydar Aliyev’s high attention to and care for the Russian Orthodox Christians, the work done to maintain the moral values of the representatives of the Russian people residing in our country and the policy pursued by President Mr.Ilham Aliyev in this regard.

Further, Archbishop Alexander was presented the book “The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the Azerbaijani Model of Multiculturalism”. The Archbishop also presented various pieces of literature reflecting the activities of the church.

At the meeting with the Archbishop of Baku and Azerbaijan Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church Alexander Ischein some information was provided on the history of the church, and it was stated that the church was built in 1909 with the material support of the famous Azerbaijani millionaire and philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev and at the expense of benefactions. In 1920 in the period of the Soviet power the church was one of the first places of worship to be closed, and its bishop was shot dead. The empty building of the church was used for various purposes, in 1990 during the bloody January events two shells brought the church to a useless state falling onto its roof.

In 1991 the semi-destroyed building of the temple was given to the Russian Orthodox Church by the Instruction of the Azerbaijani Government, repair work was carried out there, and on 27 May 2001 during his Azerbaijani trip Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all Russia announced the church holy and granted it the status of the Main Cathedral Church. The opening ceremony of the church on 24 March 2003 was attended by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, the members of the government, the representatives of the embassies and the leaders of the religious communities.

It is noteworthy that the Azerbaijani philanthropist businessman Aydin Gurbanov had great merits in the restoration of the church, and took the responsibility on himself for the most part of the financial and material resources.

The Senior Consultant of the Department of Interethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Issues of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Mammadov was also present at the meeting.

It should be noted that the religious institution of Baku and Azerbaijan Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church was first registered in 2002 at the State Committee for the Work with Religious Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and in 2009 it went under the state registration anew. The Eparchy is divided into three dioceses (administrative parts) – the diocese of the city of Baku, the Western diocese and the Caspian diocese. Attached to it are 5 churches (3 – in Baku, 1 – in Ganja and 1 – in Khachmaz), 2 prayer houses (in Sumgayit and Lankaran), 1 chapel (situated in the territory of the Russian Embassy to Azerbaijan).

The Orthodox Religious Cultural Centre operating within the Eparchy was built by President Ilham Aliyev’s instruction, and was opened on 15 November 2013. The opening ceremony was attended by President Ilham Aliyev, the Chair of the Caucasian Muslims Office, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, also the Vereyskiy Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chair of the Training Committee at St Synod, the Rector of Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary, the Archbishop of Moscow and Berlin, the Head of the Department of Relations between the Church and Society of Moscow Patriarchate, the chairs of the other Christian and Jewish communities in our country, members of the Parliament, the ambassadors of foreign countries and other individuals.

There is a baptismal room and other places for hosting various events, including conferences and seminars, constructed in this four-storied building, also necessary conditions have been created for Sunday schools to provide church education.

It should be noted that since 2015 Azerbaijani has been taught at the Russian churches to our citizens who are Russians by nationality in the frames of the project “We Are Learning the Azerbaijani Language” implemented by the Knowledge Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Service of the State Counselor on Multiculturalism, Interethnic and Religious Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Eparchy publishes the quarterly journal “Pravoslavniy Kaspi” and twice a month the newspaper “Pravoslavniy vestnik”.

The Russian Orthodox Christians residing in our country have always been embraced with the Azerbaijani state’s attention and care. Each year President Ilham Aliyev addresses the Orthodox community with congratulations on significant religious holidays, which is a tradition founded by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev.