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Lukashenka visits Orthodox church on Christmas, stresses independence

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Belarus President Aliaksandr Lukashenka on Monday visited the All Saints Orthodox parish in Minsk where he lit a candle near Duke Alexander Nevsky's icon, reports the head of state press office. This was not accidental as Lukashenka's ice hockey team is later in the evening to clash with Team Russia in the final of the 25th International Christmas Ice Hockey Amateurs Tournament.

When in the parish, Lukashenka met with Metrpopolitan Pavel and Archpriest Fiodor Polny, with head of the Minsk City Administration Anatol Sivak standing nearby. Lukashenka noted that the church was built in difficult times, and that it was of the same age as Belarus' independence.

"Let it always symbolize our sovereignty. Let it explicitly tell everyone who looks at us with a bad eye that we will never walk under the whip again," the president stressed.

Lukashenka also noted that Belarusians are the tolerant people who kindly treat their neighbors, including Ukrainians and Russians.