Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has consecrated the main cathedral dedicated to the armed forces, built to mark Victory Day in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
Religious leaders, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, his deputies, guests, and hundreds of uniformed soldiers attended the ceremony on June 14 at the newly constructed Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, located some 60 kilometers outside of Moscow.
The church was originally due to be opened on May 9 as part of a grand celebration to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. But the opening was postponed due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The massive cathedral, one of the largest in the world, sparked controversy earlier this year when leaked photos showed a partially completed mosaic featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Shoigu, General Valery Gerasimov, and several other Russian officials.
The plan to display the mosaic was later canceled following criticism and after the Kremlin leader reportedly expressed opposition to the idea.
"This is an unprecedented event for the soldiers and for all of the the citizens in the whole country," Gerasimov, the current chief of the General Staff of the armed forces, said ahead of the event.
The construction of the church cost 6 billion rubles (about $86 million), according to media reports.
The church was supposed to be paid for entirely through donations, but according to Russian reports almost 3 billion rubles (about $40 million) came from the Kremlin budget.