Moscow, Jan 7 (EFE).- President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russians celebrating an Orthodox Christmas after ordering a 36-hour unilateral ceasefire along the front lines in Ukraine that expires at midnight on Saturday.
Orthodox Christians in Russia observe the Julian calendar and mark the Christmas festival on the 7 January — it is the most widely celebrated holiday in the nation.
“This serene holiday, beloved by all, inspires noble deeds and aspirations, and serves to reinforce in society such eternal spiritual values and moral constants as mercy, empathy, kindness and justice,” Putin said in a statement issued by the Kremlin.
“Church organisations prioritise fostering interethnic and interfaith peace and harmony in our country, caring for the needy, and supporting our warriors taking part in the special military operation” in Ukraine, the Russian leader added.
Putin attended a midnight mass alone on Friday night in Moscow’s gold-domed Annunciation Cathedral, one of the three that make up the Kremlin’s cathedral square.
Putin had not observed a Christmas mass in the Russian capital since 2001.
The Russian president on Thursday ordered a 36-hour ceasefire along the front lines in Ukraine during the Orthodox Christmas period.
The order came following a request from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill.
“Taking into account the appeal of his Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation to introduce from 12:00 January 6, 2023 until 24:00 January 7, 2023 a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the parties in Ukraine,” a presidential statement said.
“Based on the fact that a large number of citizens professing Orthodoxy live in the combat areas, we call on the Ukrainian side to declare a ceasefire and give them the opportunity to attend services on Christmas Eve, as well as on the Day of the Nativity of Christ.”
Both Ukrainian authorities and the United States have accused Russian forces of not respecting the temporary ceasefire, although Moscow says its troops have only responded to enemy attacks.EFE