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NIZHNY NOVGORG, November 4 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has arrived in Nizhny Novgorod on a working visit, has visited the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, where the Blessed Virgin Mary's belt, a Christian relic, was brought on Friday.
The president congratulated parishioners on the holiday and venerated the relic.
The belt, which is believed to be wonder-working, is kept in the Vatopedi Monastery on Holy Mount Athos. The relic was brought to Russia on October 20 and has been already taken to St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Norilsk, Vladivostok, Ussuriisk, Krasnoyarsk and Tyumen. The Virgin Mary's belt will remain in Nizhny Novgorod from November 4 to 6, and then it will be taken to Diveyevo. About 150,000 pilgrims are expected to venerate the relic during the days.
The president arrived in Nizhny Novgorod by plane on Friday, at 05:00, from France's Cannes, where he participated in the G20 summit. The two-day summit ends its work on Friday, but the president returned to Russia, which marks National Unity Day on November 4. His aide Arkady Dvorkovich remained at the summit to represent Russia.
National Unity Day was established in 2005. On November 4, 1612, people's militia led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky freed the Moscow Kremlin from Polish troops. National Unity Day coincides with the holiday of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. The copy of the icon, which is kept in the Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow at present, was sent to the militia of Minin and Pozharsky before they liberated Moscow from the Polish invaders.
After the visit to the cathedral in Nizhny Novgorod, the president will hold a working meeting with the region's Governor Valery Shantsev and then together with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will lay flowers at the monument to Minin and Pozharsky.
Medvedev and Putin are also expected to visit the Gorky auto-making plant and attend a concert marking National Unity Day.