Russia's President Vladimir Putin, center, crosses himself as he attends the Orthodox Christmas service at the Holy Face of Christ the Savior Church in the Russian southern city of Sochi, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Maxim Shemetov, pool)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin prayed alongside parishioners in a newly-built church close to the venues for the Sochi Winter Olympics on Tuesday as Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas.Putin stood beside several hundred worshippers including women in headscarves for a midnight service in the Sochi church. Russian Orthodox believers celebrate Christmas according to the Julian Calendar on January 7 because the Church never switched to the Gregorian Calendar, adopted elsewhere in Christendom from 1582 . The president makes a point of celebrating Christmas in provincial churches, while Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as per his custom attended the country's main Christmas service in Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour, led by the Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.
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