Vladimir Putin

Russian patriarch blesses new Paris church, a Putin project

The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrated a prominent new church Sunday near the Eiffel Tower seen as a controversial symbol of Russian President Vladimir Putin's influence in Europe.

Patriarch Kirill, a close ally of Putin, led the elaborate sanctifying ceremony in the Saint Trinity Church on the banks of the Seine River, the gold-domed centerpiece of a 100 million euro ($106 million) complex owned by the Russian government that will include a cultural center and a school.

The hours-long ceremony included the consecration of the altar, a procession around the grounds and the placing of relics, accompanied by an all-male choir and the rich smells of...

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