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    MOSCOW, MARCH 31, 2004, (RIA NOVIOSTI) - The Russian Ministry of Education and Science will continue to promote Orthodox Christian culture studies at secondary schools, Minister Andrei Fursenko said.

    Speaking at a press conference after his meeting with Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia Wednesday, Fursenko said that no abrupt changes in the ministry's policy on that issue were forthcoming. He explained the necessity of making the fundamentals of Christian culture part of the school curriculum by the fact that Orthodox Christianity forms the basis of Russia's cultural and historical heritage. He also stressed the importance of the humanities at large, saying that they teach to reflect on things. "Education should not be turned into a purely pragmatic process," he remarked. "Religion is the humanitarian foundation of any civilization." At their meeting Wednesday, Fursenko and Alexis II also discussed ways to cooperate in countering drug abuse, alcoholism, and extremism among young people. Both agree that leaders of other Russian mainstream faiths and denominations should be invited to join in such cooperation.

    Alexis II said at the subsequent press conference that the newly appointed minister came across to him as a devoted scholar and patriot. He said that Fursenko's love for Russia and his contribution to scientific research would surely help the Education & Science Ministry promote patriotism and knowledge of Russian culture and history among the younger generation.

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