Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been urged to respond to mass protests against last month disputed parliamentary election.
In an interview to mark Christmas Day in the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriach Kirill urged authorities to be more open in the face of growing concerns over vote-rigging allegations. "If the authorities remain insensitive to protests, then that is a very bad sign: a sign that the authorities are incapable of adjusting themselves," he said.
The patriarch also warned that Russian authorities need to pay more attention to society. According to the New York Times, the patriarch implied in a nationally-televised broadcast that a crackdown on critics would mirror actions taken by the government during the Soviet era. “Every person in a free society must have the right to express his opinion, including disagreement with the actions of the authorities,” the Times quotes him as saying.
Earlier, the church had criticized protesters who said that the December 4 parliamentary elections were rigged so that Putin's party retained a majority. A massive demonstration took place in central Moscow on December 24.