Moscow, June 6, Interfax - The Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS), Sergei Stepashin, has congratulated Bashar al-Assad on winning the presidential election.
"The support given to you by the overwhelming majority of Syrian voters, regardless of their religion and ethnicity, testified to their attitude towards you as the national leader," Stepashin said in a congratulatory message to Assad, a copy of which was made available to Interfax.
By voting for Assad, the Syrian people have expressed "their unequivocal support for the continued course towards the heroic struggle against international terrorism and its abettors, preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, for stabilizing the situation and restoring peace and justice in the Middle East," Stepashin said.
The head of the IOPS wished the Syrian president and people "a swift victory over the forces of evil" that have hit this country. "I am certain that the talented people of Syria, helped by their true friends, will successfully rebuild their country that will once again become an example of a good inter-faith neighborhood and cooperation for the neighboring countries," the message said.
The IOPS was founded in 1882 at the behest of Russian Emperor Alexander III. The Society's main objectives and goals: to organize Russian pilgrimage to the Holy Lands (Palestine, Mount Athos, Bari), to assist the Russian Church in its service in abroad, to conduct cultural and education activities among the Middle Eastern population and to study the historical legacy of the Holy Land.
After the 1917 revolution the IOPS ceased to exist, but the Soviet Academy of Sciences set up the Russian Palestine Society which continued the traditions of scientific studies into the historical legacy of the Holy Land.
In May 1992 the IOPS resumed its registration as a public organization under its historical name. Currently, the organization has 18 branches operating in Russia.