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Christmas service led by Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday attended a small 13th-century church for an Orthodox Christmas service.

The Saint Nikolai Lipno Church lies on an island in the river delta near Veliky Novgorod, about 500 kilometres (300 miles) north-west of Moscow.

The small stone church is a UNESCO-listed heritage site.

During two decades in power, Putin generally has marked Christmas outside Moscow, often at relatively little-known provincial churches.

The Russian Orthodox Church, like many other Orthodox churches, observes Christmas on January 7, with the main services starting late on Christmas Eve.

It held its main midnight Christmas service at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, an elaborate ceremony with dozens of clerics led by church head Patriarch Kirill chanting and holding long candles while masked worshippers watched.