RUSSIA'S most secure cathedral was ordered to put on an Orthodox Christmas service so a seemingly paranoid Putin could worship alone.
Throughout the lonely ceremony, the tyrant appeared to shuffle uneasily as an armed bodyguard kept a close eye on him.
It is the first time since he came to power 23 years ago that he chose the sacred Cathedral of the Annunciation for the festive service.
The tyrant usually joins other worshippers in a public celebration, but amid rumours of ill-health, he chose to mark the occasion alone.
It is thought his fear of assassination linked to the war may have led to Putin avoiding his usual appearance at a crowded midnight gathering in locations outside the capital.
Putin, wearing a blue jacket and a high-necked white jumper, 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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Previous pictures show Putin amid midnight worshippers at the Church of Simeon and Anna and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, both in his home city St Petersburg.
It is unusual for Putin to meet Orthodox Christmas in Moscow city – the last time was more than two decades ago in 2001.
Putin was also alone last year, at his official residence outside the capital, Novo-Ogaryovo, as at a time he was taking extreme precautions due to the pandemic.
In 2021, he attended a service at the Church of St. Nicholas on Lipno Island near Veliky Novgorod, northwest of Moscow.
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The Cathedral of the Annunciation is inside the walls of the Kremlin fortress and seen as totally secure.
The Russian Orthodox Church backs the war in Ukraine.
Putin's lonely appearance came hours after he broke his own ceasefire as Ukrainian towns were bombarded with shelling.
The tyrant had instructed his defence minister Sergei Shoigu to introduce a ceasefire regime along the "entire line of contact" from midday on January 6 to midnight on January 7.
But just hours after the 36-hour truce was set to start, Ukraine said shelling could also still be heard in the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said Kramatorsk was also struck.
He said: "The occupiers hit the city with rockets twice.
"They talk about a ceasefire. This is who we are at war with."
Meanwhile, Ukraine's spy chief has claimed Putin will "die very soon of cancer".
Rumours have persisted that Putin is "critically ill" after he became bloated and was seen trembling and shaking alarmingly.
Bombshell spy emails leaked to The Sun appeared 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.
Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's chief of defence intelligence, has said he is certain Putin does have terminal cancer.
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He told ABC News: "He has been sick for a long time.
"I am sure he has cancer. I think he will die very quickly. I hope very soon."
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