The bishop of the diocese of St Clemens in Saratov, mgr. Clemens Pickel, is the new president of the Bishops Conference of the Russian Federation. He was appointed during the episcopal assembly in Sochi on March 16th and 17th. Mgr. Pickel replaces the archbishop of Moscow, Paolo Pezzi, who had been president for two terms. Mgr. Pickel will be assisted by the bishop of Novosibirsk, mgr. Joseph Werth, reappointed deputy president; and Don Igor Kovalevsky will be the general secretary again. The press release issued after the meeting lists the items that were on the bishops’ agenda: “problems of relations between the church and the state, inter-Christian and interreligious dialogue, social and charitable projects of the church, pastoral service for families and young people”. Pride of place was given to the issue of permanent deacons and, as stated in the final notice, the assembly passed the document “Guidelines on the training, life and ministry of permanent deacons in the Russian Federation”. The Russian Bishops Conference includes four bishops: Paolo Pezzi, archbishop of Moscow; mgr. Clemens Pickel of Saratov; mgr. Joseph Werth of Novosibirsk; mgr. Kirill Klimovich of Irkutsk. The meeting was also attended by the apostolic nuncio to the Russian federation, archbishop Celestino Migliore.