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Russia’s Orthodox Christians defy lockdown to go to Easter services

Orthodox Christians have defied coronavirus lockdown measures to gather outside Easter services as the nation’s infection rate today soared by 6,060 to 42,853.

Worshippers gathered near to churches across Russia in a celebration of the festival on Sunday, as priests led processions around churchyards to mark the occasion.   

Patriarch Kirill, who leads 150 million believers, held a televised service at Christ the Saviour Church in Moscow as Russians were urged to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In an address, he said although the church was empty ‘we are together – one big family of Orthodox believers’. 

Pictured: Dozens of worshippers gather outside St Michael the Archangels Church in Sochi, Russia today as a Russian Orthodox leads an Easter service

Pictured: Russian Orthodox believers take part in a procession during an Easter service at the Trinity Dormition Cathedral in the city of Kineshma

Pictured: Russian Orthodox believers take part in a procession during an Easter service at the Trinity Dormition Cathedral in the city of Kineshma

Though churches were shut across the capital – where most of Russia’s coronavirus cases are concentrated – some services remained open in other parts of the country.

In Kineshma, a town north-east of Moscow, crowds of worshippers were photographed holding candles outside the Trinity Dormition Cathedral.

Others lit candles during Easter services at the St Michael the Archangels Church in Sochi, despite officials urging people to pray at home until the coronavirus lockdown imposed by the authorities is lifted. 

Vladimir Putin did not attend an Easter service as usual this year but instead visited a chapel at his residence near Moscow.

In a fireside video address next to traditional Easter cakes and eggs, he urged Russians to obey restrictions while insisting the coronavirus situation in Russia is under control despite a steep rise in infections. 

Pictured: Church-goers stand apart from each other as they gather outside the St Michael the Archangels Church in masks

Pictured: Church-goers stand apart from each other as they gather outside the St Michael the Archangels Church in masks

Worshippers gathered near churches across Russia in a celebration of the festival on Sunday, as priests led processions around churchyards to mark the occasion

Worshippers gathered near churches across Russia in a celebration of the festival on Sunday, as priests led processions around churchyards to mark the occasion

Vladimir Putin (pictured during his Easter address) did not attend an Easter service as usual this year but instead visited a chapel at his residence near Moscow

Vladimir Putin (pictured during his Easter address) did not attend an Easter service as usual this year but instead visited a chapel at his residence near Moscow

The country marked its worst day for coronavirus today as 6,060 new cases and 48 deaths were reported. Russia has now recorded 42,853 cases of Covid-19 overall, with 361 deaths confirmed. 

It comes as footage emerged of dozens of people celebrating the Easter weekend – which takes place a week later for Orthodox Christians due to the religious calendar – in a ‘quarantine party’.

The clip shows around 40 people crammed into a two-room flat in defiance of lockdown rules imposed by the government. 

In the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, more than 100 people crowded on the steps of a locked cathedral for a vigil to mark Easter. 

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow held a televised service at the Christ the Saviour Church in the Russian capital as the public was urged to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow held a televised service at the Christ the Saviour Church in the Russian capital as the public was urged to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic

A Terek Cossack wearing a protective face mask attends the Orthodox Easter service at the Kazan Cathedral amid the coronavirus outbreak today

A Terek Cossack wearing a protective face mask attends the Orthodox Easter service at the Kazan Cathedral amid the coronavirus outbreak today

Pictured: Worshippers wearing face masks attend the Orthodox Easter service at the Kazan Cathedral in Stavropol, Russia today

Pictured: Worshippers wearing face masks attend the Orthodox Easter service at the Kazan Cathedral in Stavropol, Russia today

Some across Russia gathered together on Orthodox Easter Sunday, defying social distancing guidance not to leave their own homes

Some across Russia gathered together on Orthodox Easter Sunday, defying social distancing guidance not to leave their own homes

In the same city, dozens gathered for barbecues on the warmest day of the year as temperatures reached 22C.

Others across Russia gathered together on Orthodox Easter Sunday, defying social distancing guidance not to leave their own homes.

‘We thoroughly analyse the experiences of other countries, actively interact with our foreign friends and colleagues,’ Putin said in his Easter message. 

‘We understand what is happening, we see the risks, we know what needs to be done in any situation, and we do what is necessary.’ 

He said the Kremlin was taking ‘all measures to protect people’s lives and health.’

More than 100 people queue outside a cathedral in Krasnoyarsk for Easter night time service, Western Siberia, despite it being closed

More than 100 people queue outside a cathedral in Krasnoyarsk for Easter night time service, Western Siberia, despite it being closed

Pictured: A Russian Orthodox believer in a face mask lights candles during an Easter service at St Michael the Archangels Church

Pictured: A Russian Orthodox believer in a face mask lights candles during an Easter service at St Michael the Archangels Church

The country marked its worst day for coronavirus today as 6,060 new cases and 48 deaths were reported

The country marked its worst day for coronavirus today as 6,060 new cases and 48 deaths were reported

Russia has now recorded 42,853 cases of Covid-19 overall, with 361 deaths confirmed

Russia has now recorded 42,853 cases of Covid-19 overall, with 361 deaths confirmed

Pictured: A Russian Orthodox priest shares Holy Fire from Jerusalem after an Easter service at St Michael the Archangels Church

Pictured: A Russian Orthodox priest shares Holy Fire from Jerusalem after an Easter service at St Michael the Archangels Church

Pictured: Russian Orthodox Christians attend the Easter service at the Russian Orthodox Old Believers' Church in Kazan

Pictured: Russian Orthodox Christians attend the Easter service at the Russian Orthodox Old Believers’ Church in Kazan

Pictured: Patriarch Kirill, second left, conducts the church's main service celebrating Orthodox Easter at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral

Pictured: Patriarch Kirill, second left, conducts the church’s main service celebrating Orthodox Easter at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral

‘To support the economy requires additional and large resources and reserves,’ he added. ‘We have them.’

‘We use them carefully, precisely, based on the current situation, and above all to help people, those families who are now in a difficult situation.’

In Moscow, authorities have offered cash incentives for recovered coronavirus patients to donate blood plasma.     

Medics hope the antibodies of those who have beaten the virus could help others survive. 

The first plasma transfusion procedures for patients recovered from Covid-19 were performed last week, it was reported.      

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk