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Russian Patriarch Consecrates Belgrade Monument To Last Tsar

The heads of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches have consecrated a monument to the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, in central Belgrade.

The ceremony came near the end of a three-day visit during which Moscow Patriarch Kirill has played up religious and historical ties between Russia and Serbia, which is seeking to join the European Union while cultivating political and economic ties with Moscow.

Kirill said the tsar, who was killed by the Bolsheviks with his family in 1918, had "sacrificed his crown, his kingdom, and his life to save Serbia and to save Europe."

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic called the monument "a new symbol of an old friendship."

Kirill's trip to Serbia came a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin watched a military parade in Belgrade and coincided with an unprecedented Russian-Serbian military exercise that was held on November 14.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS