Ayder Bulatov, Deputy Chairman of the Republican Committee of the AR of Crimea for Religious Affairs (Simferopol, Ukraine)

Implementation of the GUAM transnational energy transportation and communication project calls for a discussion of a vast range of issues related not merely to the political-legal, economic, and engineering spheres, which are indispensable for the projects adequate functioning, but also to other problems found far beyond the projects confines. I have in mind political stability, civil peace, and interfaith relations.

The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is a strategically important part of the GUAM corridor, which makes civil peace and stable interfaith relations a linchpin for the successful realization of GUAMs political and economic tasks.

Ukraines independence created a qualitatively new social context in which millions of people acquired new ideas about the world, moral and ethical values, spirituality, and religion.

At all times religion has played an important role in peoples lives; at all times the church has been seen as a force conducive to societys moral revival.

The Ukrainian Constitution and the countrys legal system proclaim the principle of equal rights and opportunities and are designed to prevent all encroachments on the right to freedom of personal philosophy and religion, the latter constituting the ideological, moral and ethical, and social basis of a civil society. This right includes the freedom to profess or not to profess any religion (Art 35). Under Ukrainian legislation, the violation of citizen equality regardless of religious convictions (Art 161 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and illegal prevention of performing religious rituals (Art 180) are punishable by law.

Even though the processes going on in the religious sphere remain complicated and highly ambiguous, Ukrainian society has realized that there is no alternative to the commonly accepted norms of freedom of conscience. This is confirmed by the fact that Ukraine has accepted the main principles of human rights, ratified the corresponding international documents, and brought domestic legislation into harmony with them.

Today, it can be said that each believer, religious community, and Ukrainian society are sitting a freedom test. The Autonomous Republic of Crimea is no exception in this respect.

The Crimea, together with the rest of the country, is living through a religious revival that sometimes breaks out in storms. All the ethnic groups on the peninsula are reviving their spirituality and

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