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Putin did attend 2022 Orthodox Easter service

April 24, 2022 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 24, 2022. Online posts falsely claimed that Putin wasn’t present at the service. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 24, 2022. Online posts falsely claimed that Putin wasn’t present at the service. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 24, 2022. Online posts falsely claimed that Putin wasn’t present at the service. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 24, 2022. Online posts falsely claimed that Putin wasn’t present at the service. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Orthodox Easter service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, April 24, 2022. Online posts falsely claimed that Putin wasn’t present at the service. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

CLAIM: Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t attend the Orthodox Easter service in Moscow on Sunday.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. An Associated Press photographer was at the service and captured pictures of Putin at the event.

THE FACTS: Claims that Putin didn’t attend the Orthodox Easter service at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, circulated widely on social media over the weekend. Some users alleged that footage of Putin at the event from Russian state media was either prerecorded or old.

“Putin was too much of a coward to be present in the church during the actual event,” one Twitter user wrote on Saturday in a tweet that was retweeted more than 2,700 times. “Pre-recorded footage of him added in, and quite poorly. He is missing next to the painting of a crown on a red table on the wall.”

“So it seems Putin didn’t attend Easter services. Instead, pre-recorded footage of him in an empty church (from 2021?) was added to the actual service, and this was then broadcast as if real,” another Twitter user wrote on Sunday. “This doesn’t feel like a dictator who’s confident in his security, or his overall rule.”

But news photographs show the claim is false and Putin was at the Orthodox Easter service in Moscow on Sunday. An AP photographer took pictures of Putin at the service on April 24. Other news wire services, including Reuters and Agence France-Press, also published their own photographs from the service, showing Putin at the service alongside Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Additionally, AFP published footage that clearly shows Putin attending the service and in the same shot as members of the clergy and congregation.

While similar footage of Putin was captured in previous years, photographs of the Russian leader at past Orthodox Easter services in 2021, 2019, and 2018 show he wears a similar outfit and stands next to Sobyanin in the same part of the cathedral at the service every year. However, a comparison between the 2022 and 2021 images shows differences, including that Putin this year wore a darker-colored tie and the candle he is holding has a drip protector near the base.

Ukrainians also celebrated Orthodox Easter on Sunday, with hundreds of worshippers surrounding St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the AP reported.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.