Russian President Vladimir Putin finished his one-day visit to Serbia on Wednesday evening with a visit to the Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade.
A huge crowd of people, estimated by police to be about 120,000 strong, gathered in front of this Serbian Orthodox church to welcome him, carrying a banner reading, in Russian and Serbian, “Thank you, president – for a free and decent Serbia.”
The Russian leader addressed them in Serbian, to say, “Thank you for your friendship!”
On his way to the temple, Putin said that Serbia-Russia ties are not “of yesterday and today” – but are centuries old, with deep and firm roots, while the two nations are bound together by their spiritual closeness. “When we stand together, victory is there,” the president said, paraphrasing a Russian saying.
Inside the temple later in the evening, Putin and his host, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, symbolically took part in the installation of a mosaic behind the altar, made by Russian artists and financed by the Russian state.
Russia earlier financed the mosaic installed in the dome of this landmark Serbian Orthodox Church Temple.