Moscow: President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended the midnight Easter service in Moscow`s main cathedral and sent greetings to countrymen as Russian Orthodox Church on Sunday celebrated one of the holiest days in its calendar.
Amid heavy security in the wake of a series of suicide attacks in the country this week, Putin, Medvedev and his wife Svetlana attended the Easter service at Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Some 5,000 people also attended the service.
In a rare coincidence, this year Russian Orthodox Christians are celebrating Easter along with the rest of the Christianity -- Protestants and Catholics -- on the same day as the Julian and Gregorian calendars due 13 day difference meet not more than 4 times in a century on Easter.
"The Easter festival holds a special place in the spiritual life of Russian society..." Medvedev said in a statement issued overnight by the Kremlin. Medvedev said the Christians` cooperation for peace and mutual understanding would contribute to the more harmonious inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations.
Putin congratulated the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church, and all Russia and expressed the wish that Easter would "bring peace and love into every home", said a statement issued by his office.
In Russia, which celebrates Easter the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated as the victory of life over death. This year, in the wake of recent terror attacks in Moscow and Daghestani town of Kizlyar which claimed 52 lives and wounded 100 others, the security was tightened across the country and thousands of police and interior troops were deployed near the churches and graveyards.
Putin, who flew back home for the Easter service after blitz visit of Venezuela and Bolivia, this year was also without his spouse Ludmila at the Ester service.
"Let the joy of this bright Paschal night that has touched our hearts stay as long as we can hold it," Patriarch Kirill said following the four-hour service.
After midnight and for the next 40 days after Easter Sunday, Orthodox Christians greet each other with "Christ is risen!" and the reply is "He is risen indeed!" followed by three kisses. They also exchange Easter eggs.