Ill Putin shuffles through empty Moscow cathedral after violating Xmas truce
Putin celebrated Orthodox Christmas alone this year as Russia’s most secure cathedral was ordered to put on a service just for him.
The tyrant appeared to shuffle along awkwardly as an armed bodyguard kept a close eye on him throughout the lonely ceremony.
It is the first closing of the sacred Cathedral of the Annunciation for the festive service since Putin came to power, 23 years ago.
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The Cathedral sits inside the walls of the Kremlin fortress and is seen as totally secure.
The Russian leader usually celebrates the occasion with other worshippers, but amid rumours of ill-health, he chose to mark the occasion alone.
It is alleged that fear of assassination linked to the war may have led to Putin avoiding his usual appearance at a crowded midnight gathering outside Moscow.
The last time Putin spent Orthodox Christmas in Moscow city was two decades ago in 2001.
Putin was seen crossing himself during the ceremony in a place of worship where traditionally tsars confessed their sins in the Kremlin.
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Putin appeared in the cathedral only hours after he broke his own ceasefire as Ukrainian towns were bombarded with shelling.
Sergei Shoigu, Russian defence minister, was instructed by Putin to introduce a ceasefire regime along the "entire line of contact" from midday on January 6 to midnight on January 7.
Ukraine said shelling could still be heard in the eastern city of Bakhmut just hours after the 36-hour truce was set to start.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said Kramatorsk was also under fire.
He said: "The occupiers hit the city with rockets twice. They talk about a ceasefire. This is who we are at war with."
Ukraine's spy chief has claimed Putin will "die very soon of cancer", after rumours surfaced that the Russian leader is "critically ill" after being seen bloated, trembling and shaking uncontrollably.
The Sun claims it was leaked spy emails, appearing to confirm he has early-stage Parkinson's disease and pancreatic cancer.
Sources also claimed he had emergency surgery last year and was shadowed by a team of top doctors.
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