March 24, 2023

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In pictures: Orthodox celebrate Easter as war divides Ukraine and Russia

In pictures: Orthodox celebrate Easter as war divides Ukraine and Russia

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Christians in Ukraine celebrated Easter this weekend, as the Russian invasion entered its third month.

Ukrainians began the holiday under a curfew, after the country’s presidential office banned residents in all 24 regions from getting out into the air at night as Russia ramped up its attacks.

The contrast was stark between Orthodox Christians in war-torn Ukraine and those in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin attended Orthodox Easter mass at midnight.

In Ukraine, the religious weekend provided a brief but welcome respite from conflict for many, as displaced families, soldiers and others shared in traditions across Ukraine. Children painted eggs and priests offered blessings, while relief agencies baked and served kulich – a kind of sweet and dense Easter bread.

Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion in Ukraine and Russia, celebrates Easter on Sunday, April 24 this year.

Many Christians also celebrated midnight mass and other occasions on Fridays and Saturdays, but the conflict increased A growing split between Orthodox Christians in Russia and those in Ukraine.

In Moscow, Putin attended Easter mass Patriarch Kirill, Russia’s supreme Orthodox metropolitan and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kirill was a staunch supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Putin, dressed in a blue suit and holding a glowing red candle at midnight mass in Moscow, joined other worshipers in an announcement, “Really [Christ] rose,” according to Reuters.

And during the mass in Moscow, Kirill paid tribute to “the young soldiers who take the oath, who embark on the path of defending the Fatherland.”

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Ahead of the holiday, Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a truce on Easter Sunday. Guterres She said Last week was a good time to “think about what it means to suffer, sacrifice, die — and be reborn. It’s meant to be a moment of loneliness.”

But Russia rejected the armistice, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who In a video message posted on Telegram Last week, the refusal “shows how well the leaders of this country have done.” [Russia] They actually treat the Christian faith.”

“But we keep our hope,” Zelensky said. “I hope for peace, I hope that life overcomes death.”

Ukrainians also celebrated outside the country. According to the United Nations refugee agency, more than 5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the war began on February 24.