The Rus Baptism festivities in Belarus will be a landmark event in the lives of the brotherly Orthodox peoples, Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk told Itar-Tass. “The programme is rather intensive. It has been developed by the Church and the authorities. A special organizing committee led by Vice-Premier Anatoly Tozik has been set up. An international conference on the role of the Baptism of Rus in the fates of the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian peoples has been held and involved several hundreds of specialists,” Metropolitan Filaret said. “A youth rally, which was preceded by the procession of the Cross and by the liturgy in open air, has been held in the ancient town of Zaslavl. Round-table meetings, different festivals and schoolchildren’s competitions are held all round Minsk. Thematic exhibitions, charitable actions and concerts in support of children’s orphanages, invalids and elderly people are expected to take place,” the Belarusian metropolitan said. In Gomel a stone will be laid to the foundation of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, which is being restored now, Metropolitan Filaret said, adding, “In the last 25 years over 1,000 churches have been build and restored. But we lack them, especially in the cities. We have no general plans to build churches all round the country. Very often it is not easy to get a lot to build churches even if there unfinished churches.” “We love our guests. Belarusians are hospitable. Mainly we wait for guests to arrive from Russia, Ukraine and other republics of the former Soviet Union. Naturally, most pilgrims will be Russians and Ukrainians. We don’t count by names, but we don’t try to differ Belarusians from the guests of our country: we’re glad to meet everyone,” Metropolitan Filaret said.