230,000 Muscovites Celebrate Orthodox Christmas

MOSCOW, January 7 (RIA Novosti) – About 230,000 believers attended overnight celebrations of Orthodox Christmas in the 326 churches and cathedrals in Russian capital, city police said Tuesday.

The figure stands at about 2 percent of Moscow’s total population of some 12 million.

The Orthodox Christian Church, Russia’s biggest religious denomination, still uses Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the modern Gregorian calendar.

Church head, Patriarch Kirill, met with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during the service in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

President Vladimir Putin attended a Christmas service in a new church in the southern city of Sochi, which will host next month the Winter Olympics.

National television also aired early Tuesday a lengthy interview with Patriarch Kirill, who sermonized against the commercialization of Christmas, warned against a possible revolution in Ukraine, criticized Internet addicts and promoted a nationwide cleanup of the country.

The church and the state are separated in Russia, but the Kremlin was accused in recent years of aligning with the Orthodox Christian Church. Kirill endorsed Putin’s presidential bid in 2012.

About 68 percent of Russians identified themselves as Orthodox Christians in a nationwide poll held last November by the independent pollster Levada.

But only 14 percent of the respondents said they attend religious services at least once a month.

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