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Russian Orthodox Church Enthrones New Leader

A new patriarch has taken charge of the Russian Orthodox Church, becoming the church's first leader to be installed since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Patriarch Kirill received his vestments in a ceremony Sunday attended by hundreds of worshippers, including dozens of top clerics, as well as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

The president said Kirill's enthronement creates conditions for "a dialogue of solidarity" between the church and the state.

Ties between the Russian government and the church have grown stronger since the end of the Soviet era in 1991.

Russian Orthodox leaders overwhelmingly chose Kirill, 62, as the church's new patriarch last week. Kirill is the church's 16th leader, overseeing a congregation of more than 100 million followers.

Kirill succeeds Patriarch Alexei, who died in December at the age of 79.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.