MOSCOW — Worshipers including President Vladimir Putin crowded into Moscow’s vast Christ the Savior Cathedral for Easter services led by Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill, a supporter of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.
The services began late Saturday and were to extend long into Sunday as phalanxes of white-robed clerics circulated through the cathedral swinging smoking censers and a choir sang and chanted.
Most Western churches observed Easter on April 9, but the Russian Orthodox Church follows a different calendar.
In a video message broadcast on state televison before the start of the service, Kirill lamented the “grave events taking place on our Russian historical land, ” echoing the claim of Putin and other Russian officials that an independent Ukraine is essentially a fiction.
Kirill called for prayers “so that peace and a common good life, fraternal relations again unite our peoples, who were once the one people of united Russia.”
Putin was shown among the standing worshipers, holding a thin red candle.