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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cakes, Eggs and an Easter Slide Show

MTA priest blessing Easter cakes and eggs at the Church of the Icon of the Virgin Gorgoepikoos by the Sokol metro.
Millions of Russian Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday by attending church services, baking cakes, painting eggs and laying flowers on the graves of loved ones.

President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov joined thousands of people at the Christ the Savior Cathedral for a four-hour service that started shortly before midnight Saturday. The service was broadcast live on Channel One television.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II wished health and happiness to Orthodox Christians on the holiest day of the Orthodox calendar. "Let the joy of the Easter holiday touch every heart. Let this joy give you strength and courage to withstand all hardships and troubles," the patriarch said at the service.

Alexy also issued a statement with Easter greetings, excerpts of which were published on the front pages of most newspapers Saturday.

In his Easter greetings, Putin said the country was undergoing a spiritual revival. "Easter has really become a nationwide holiday, broadly recognized in Russia. On this festive spring day, I'd like to point to the growing positive influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional Christian confessions on molding the spiritual and moral climate in Russian society,'' he said in a statement.

Earlier Saturday evening, Orthodox Church officials put on a slide show that projected images of icons and frescoes onto the Christ the Savior Cathedral's white exterior. The inside of the cathedral was adorned with hundreds of flowers.

The huge cathedral, located just south of the Kremlin, was demolished under Stalin in 1931 and rebuilt in 2000.

At the end of the service, Yuvenaly, the metropolitan of Krutitsky and Kolomensky, gave the patriarch a gigantic egg decorated with images of Easter, the Soviet victory in World War II on May 9, 1945, and the Kulikovo battle in which the Russians defeated Golden Horde forces 625 years ago.

More than 80,000 Orthodox Christians attended late-night services in Moscow on Saturday, while more than 350,000 attended services Sunday, Ekho Moskvy reported Monday. In addition, more than 700,000 people followed the Orthodox tradition of laying flowers on the graves of loved ones on Easter Day, it said.