Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking part in an Orthodox Christmas service at St. George’s (Yuriev) Monastery in Russia’s Veliky Novgorod.
The midnight mass was held at the monastery’s Spassky Cathedral. After the service, Putin went to see the St. George’s Cathedral of the Yuriev Monastery.
The Russian leader usually celebrates Easter at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, but for Christmas Putin goes to different regions of Russia each year. Last year, Putin attended a midnight Christmas service at the Church of the Intercession (Protecting Veil, or Pokrova) of the Mother of God in the village of Turginovo, located about 150 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of Moscow.
The Yuriev Monastery in Veliky Novgorod is considered one of the oldest in Russia. It is located on the bank of the Volkhov River close to where it flows out of Lake Ilmen. Legend says that the monastery was founded in 1030 by Yaroslav the Wise.