Two Russian Orthodox clergymen were named Saturday to seats in the new Soviet parliament, the first time churchmen have been chosen to a national assembly in the Soviet Union, Moscow television reported.
The seats were among 750 allocated in the new Congress of People’s Deputies for “public organizations"--including 100 members of the Communist Party elected from a list of 100 names at a Central Committee meeting this week.
The majority of the seats will be decided in unprecedented multi-candidate elections on March 26.
The clergymen’s election reflected improved relations between the church and the Communist authorities, who in recent years have shown more tolerance toward religion and returned monasteries and other property to the Church.
The two men were identified as Archbishop Pitirim, head of the Russian Orthodox church’s international department, and Metropolitan Alexei of Leningrad and Novgorod.