Vladimir Putin spends Orthodox Christmas service alone in Kremlin

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Vladimir Putin brushed off spending an Orthodox Church Christmas service with other people and instead spent it alone.

Inside the Kremlin cathedral where tsars once confessed their sins, the Russian president was the sole worshipper.

Russia’s RIA news agency said it was the first time in two decades Putin celebrated Christmas in Moscow rather than on the region’s outskirts.

State television broadcasted two clips of Putin in the Cathedral of the Annunciation as priests conducted the midnight service, the Divine Liturgy.

A dour Putin crossed himself several times and prayed in stark contrast to his cheerful Christmas message.

‘This bright, beloved holiday inspires people to good deeds and aspirations, serves to affirm in society such enduring spiritual values and moral guidelines as mercy, compassion, goodness and justice,’ he said.

This was the first time in decades Putin did not observe the ceremony outside Moscow (Picture: EPA)
The president was the sole worshipper at the Annunciation Cathedral in the Kremlin (Picture EPA)
Putin had announced an apparent cease-fire over the Orthodox Christmas period (Credits: EPA)

Every January 6 and 7, millions of Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas – some two weeks after their western counterparts have tucked into turkeys.

Catholic and Orthodox Christians use different calendars to mark the birth of Jesus Christ, with countries such as Ukraine and Russia seeing yesterday as Christmas Eve.

In his Christmas message today, Putin praised the Russian Orthodox Church, whose influential head Patriarch Kirill has backed his war against Ukraine.

Church organisers are ‘supporting our soldiers taking part in a special military operation’.

‘Such great, multifaceted, truly ascetic work deserves the most sincere respect,’ he added.

It comes as the Kremlin announced a 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine to mark the Eastern Orthodox Christmas.

In an apparent truce dismissed by Kyiv as nothing but posturing, the cease-fire lasted from noon Friday to midnight Saturday.

epa10374713 A handout photo made available by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service shows Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) meeting with Ukrainian servicemen during his visit to Bakhmut, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, 20 December 2022, amid Russia's invasion. Zelensky visited the frontline city of Bakhmut where he presented state awards to Ukrainian military personnel, the Ukraine's Presidential office said in a statement. Russian troops entered Ukraine on 24 February 2022 starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. EPA/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT -- MANDATORY CREDIT: UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE -- HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Zelensky shrugged off Putin’s cease-fire (Picture: EPA)

The Kremlin said: ‘Given that a large number of citizens practising Orthodoxy resides in the areas of hostilities, we call on the Ukrainian side to announce a cease-fire and give them an opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve and the day of Christ’s birth.’

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of ‘using Christmas as a cover’ in his daily video address.

Addressing the Russian people, Zelensky said Moscow ‘sent all of your people to be slaughtered’.

‘Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses lulls in the war to continue the war with new force,’ he added.

Russia has repeatedly rejected several cease-fire pleas from Ukraine intended to allow for humanitarian evacuations and recoup aid.

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