Sep 9 2007 1:56PM
SYDNEY. Sept 9 (Interfax) - Russia will strengthen relations with compatriots abroad, President Vladimir Putin has said.
"The Russian community in Australia numbers about 200,000," Putin told representatives of the Russian diaspora in Australia on Sunday.
"Our compatriots play a significant role in the life of Australia, especially in sport, culture and business," he said.
Putin also pointed out that ethnic Russians residing in Australia have not lost interest in their historical homeland.
The state has changed its attitude toward compatriots abroad over the past 15 years, Putin said.
"The Russian Orthodox Church remains the spiritual magnet for all Russians living abroad," he said.
Putin thanked the Orthodox Church in Australia for contributing largely to the unification of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and abroad.
Russia will continue strengthening ties with compatriots abroad, the Russian president said.