Commemorations are taking place in Ukraine to mark the 1,025th anniversary of the conversion to Christianity of Kievan Rus, the medieval Slavic state that laid the Orthodox foundations for modern-day Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.
On July 28, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the consecration of a new bell at a church near the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol at the Vladimir Cathedral in Chersonesus Taurica, which is located on the site where, according to legend, Prince Vladimir the Great was baptized into Orthodox Christianity in 988.
All of the bells of Orthodox Christian churches across Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus rang for 15 minutes at 12 p.m. local time to mark the anniversary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus -- the medieval Slavic state that laid the Orthodox foundations for those modern-day countries.
The celebrations marking the Christianization anniversary began in Kyiv on July 27, attended by Putin, Yanukovych, Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, and representatives of nine Orthodox churches.
After the ceremony at the Vladimir Cathedral in Chersonesus Taurica, Putin and Yanukovych participated in events to mark the Navy Day holiday that both countries are celebrating on July 28.
Yanukovych used the occasion to praise the strategic partnership of the two countries.
"We appreciate and treasure our friendship with Russia. Ukraine and Russia have been and will remain strategic partners. This is especially tangible here, in Sevastopol. This is the place were the maritime fraternity of Ukraine and Russia is being molded," Yanukovych said.
"I am confident that our joint efforts will enable us to secure a stable future for all who work on the sea, while Ukrainian and Russian banners on our ships will symbolize our friendship, dependability, and prosperity."
The Russian Black Sea Fleet, which is based in Sevastopol, is holding a naval parade and other demonstrations.
Commemorations of the anniversary move on to Belarus on July 28 and 29.
PHOTO GALLERY: Commemorations in Ukraine
With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax