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Greek Pontians to visit Panagia Soumela on May 19 for the first time in 90 years Thessaloniki15.05.2009

Ninety years after the Pontian Greek genocide, Greeks from Pontos will visit for the first time on May 19 the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in Pontos, according to PanHellenic Federation of Pontian Associations President Charalambos Apostolidis who spoke in a press conference held in Thessaloniki on the occasion of the genocide anniversary. Until now, visits to Panagia Soumela were held only on August 15 but never on May 19, the Pontian Greek Genocide Memorial Day.

The mission will be led by Ivan Savvidis, Russian Duma MP, SAE former Soviet Union countries Regional Coordinator and president of the Federation of Greek Communities in Russia, to whom the idea for the pilgrimage visit belongs.

The Pontians want international recognition of the Genocide, preservation of the Greek monuments in Turkey and respect of the human rights of the Pontian-dialect-speaking Muslims in Pontos.

On May 18, the eve of the anniversary, a vigil will be held at Aghia Sophia Square in Thessaloniki and candles will be lit for the 353,000 victims of the genocide.

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