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Modernity still requires morality - Patriarch

Patriarch KirillAs President Medvedev harked back to the forward thrusting reforms of Alexander II and linked them to his own, Russia's spiritual leader, Patriarch Kirill, issued a stark warning.

Speaking at the same conference, to mark the 150th anniversary since the ground-breaking Tsar liberated the serfs, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia warned against "heartless technocracy" and half-baked top-down directives.

A sound moral basis is the key to modernisation, he advised.

Moral foundation

"True modernisation always bases on modern principles... Modernisation without a moral dimension turns to the unrestrained pursuit of temporary goods and pleasures, heartless technocracy, resulting in perverted relations between people," he said, Interfax reported.

From on high

Medvedev has heavily promoted modernisation as a tenet of his administration and the Patriarch's comments offered a note of caution to how he proceeds from here, and said that power vertical edicts are not the way forward.

The most pressing issues are social, said the Patriarch, "to solve them the actions of state authorities are absolutely necessary, these problems can't be solved only from above, without participation of people," and they should not be hurried, he said.

Earlier this year church representatives set about trying to tackle some social concerns, putting forward plans for a national dress code to combat provocative outfits and trying to spark debate on the essential Russian national virtues.

Meanwhile Medvedev's pet project, the Skolkovo technology centre, has been criticised as top down directive that will fail for want of ground level action.

Freedom of expression

Both the national and the spiritual leader agreed that freedom of expression must be tolerated in a variety of forms, "authorities are urged not to prevent people from civil activity but to encourage it," the Patriarch said.

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