Svetlana and Dmitry Medvedev, left, and Lyudmila and Vladmir V. Putin attend an Orthodox Easter service in April at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. Medvedev has since succeeded Putin as president, and Putin is now prime minister. Under the eight-year presidency of Putin, who is rumored to be a fervent believer, Orthodox leaders took on a new prominence. They blessed the military, praised the countrys rulers, encouraged priests to work on behalf of national interests and carefully avoided any criticism of the governments human rights or democracy record.
Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times