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Russians Celebrate the Saints Who Gave Them Their Alphabet

A monument to Cyril and Methodius in Khanty-Mansiysk

Thousands of Russians have filled Red Square to join the patriarch of Russia's Orthodox Church in celebrating Slavic literature and the two ninth-century monks considered to be the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet.

The religious and patriotic holiday celebrations were in keeping with Kremlin efforts to promote national pride and consolidate society as Russia is under pressure from the West and its economy is heading toward recession.

The Orthodox Church, which has grown close to the Kremlin under President Vladimir Putin, plays a vital role in these efforts. In a meeting with Putin on the holiday, Patriarch Kirill said the "consolidation of our society around fundamental moral principles" was the "result of our joint labors."

The patriarch also held church services on Sunday's holiday celebrating saints Cyril and Methodius.

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