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Putin Attends Mass At Rural Church Where Parents Were Baptized

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Christmas service at a local church in the settlement of Turginovo in the Tver region early on January 7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attended midnight Mass in a church in the village of Turginovo, about 150 kilometers northwest of Moscow.

It was the church where his parents had been baptized in 1911. Putin stood in a black jacket and an open-collar shirt with several solemn-faced children standing around him.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, led the night Mass at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral on January 7. The service was broadcast live on state television.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was among the crowd in the cathedral, which was destroyed under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, then reconstructed after the fall of communist rule.

It was also the first time since 1928 that a Christmas Eve Mass was held in the world's largest Orthodox basilica, the St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

The landmark 19th-century cathedral was turned into a museum under the atheist Soviet regime.

After the U.S.S.R.'s collapse in 1991 it remained as a museum, but the Russian Orthodox Church has used it periodically for services.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS