The President’s message reads, in part:
“Christmas brightens our lives with special joy, awakening the kindest feelings and turning our thoughts to spiritual origins and traditions. This is the time for good thoughts and deeds and sincere care for those in need of help and support.
The Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations play a huge and a truly unique role in revitalising our spiritual integrity and moral values and preserving our rich historical and cultural heritage. Their cooperation with government and public agencies in education and charity and in strengthening the institution of the family and the upbringing of the younger generation has been expanding. They also do a great deal to bring harmony into interethnic and interreligious dialogue and preserve civil peace and accord in our country. Such vast constructive work deserves deep appreciation and respect.
I wish all Orthodox Christians and all Russians observing the holiday health, success and prosperity.”
Vladimir Putin attended Christmas mass at Spassky Cathedral in St George's (Yuriev) Monastery in Veliky Novgorod.
After the service, the President toured the monastery’s St George's Cathedral, which has been the resting place of the monastery’s rectors and several Russian princes. He was updated on the results of the archaeological excavations conducted on the premises. The findings included a tomb with remains of St Theoctistus, Archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov in the 13th-14th centuries, who was reburied in the monastery in 1786. The burial site was considered lost during the Soviet period. Vladimir Putin was also shown fragments of ancient Russian frescoes which can be restored. In addition, the President saw the tombs of Alexander Nevsky’s mother and elder brother –Rostislava (Feodosiya) Mstislavna and Prince Theodore Yaroslavich.
During his trip, Vladimir Putin also met with Novgorod fishermen he got acquainted with during a boat tour on Lake Ilmen in 2016.