Russians mark Orthodox Easter with church masses

By Bernardo Suárez Indart

Moscow, May 2 (EFE).- Russian Orthodox Christians celebrated Easter on Sunday in churches, after last year’s events were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under strict health restrictions because of the coronavirus, more than 1.6 million worshippers attended churches on Saturday night on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill said he hoped the pandemic would be overcome soon, wishing people would be free of the virus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended Kirill’s service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

Since he came into power in 2000, Putin has only missed two Easter masses at the cathedral: in 2003, when he was making an official visit to Tajikistan and in 2020, during the lockdown.

Putin thanked the church for its work in preserving “peace and harmony in the country and in developing interreligious and inter-ethnic dialogue.”

In 2019, some 1.5 million people went to churches in Moscow to mark the event, but far fewer are expected this year due to the coronavirus-induced restrictions.

“At Christmas about 200,000 people went to church. It is clear that now there will be more than 200,000, but significantly less than 1.5 million,” the head of Moscow’s department of National Policy and Inter-regional Relations told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Worshippers are required to wear face masks and practice physical distancing in the capital.

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