Patriarch Kirill leads Christmas liturgy in Moscow

STORY: The first Christmas service in the main Cathedral of Russian Orthodoxy since the start of what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine was noted by the absence of top Russian politicians.

No members of the Government or Parliament were seen during the official broadcast.

President Vladimir Putin chose to attend a Christmas liturgy on his own at the Kremlin.

The situation in Ukraine was reflected in the broadcast, though.

In a Christmas address shown just before the liturgy started, Kirill accused Kyiv of trying to ruin pro-Moscow branch of Orthodox Church.

Ukraine's security service has raided property owned by the church and last month accused a senior cleric of engaging in anti-Ukrainian activity by supporting Russian policies.

Kirill mocked what he called "pathetic attempts" by Kyiv to destroy the church in Ukraine.

Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6-7.