The head of the Russian Orthodox Church paid tribute on Sunday to more than 100,000 people killed in a Nazi death camp in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk during WWII.

Patriarch Kirill laid flowers to a memorial erected on the site of one of five death camps opened by Nazis in 1941-1944 in the city, located northeast of Belarus's capital Minsk.

About 200,000 captured Soviet troops and local civilians were killed during the German invasion of the city, including over 20,000 Jews, who were locked in a ghetto and killed in the first months of the war. Only 118 city residents survived the occupation.

"This is a place of sorrow, but your faces are full of joy. This proves that Lord has helped us through hardships in our history, led us our way," Kirill told officials and city residents present at the ceremony, RIA Novosti reported.

He blessed city residents and wished prosperity to Belarus and all its nationals.

The patriarch's visit to Belarus began on Friday, when he was in Minsk and among other things met with President Alexander Lukashenko, pledging efforts to promote dialogue between Russia and Belarus.

"I came home," Kirill told Lukashenko. "I am Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, not only of the Russian Federation. Holy Rus is our common historical homeland, which includes different states."

"It is your Belarus," echoed Lukashenko. "It is part of a giant Slavic Orthodox nation. Eighty-five percent of believers here are Orthodox."

Kirill toured Ukraine in summer. The canonical Orthodox Churches in ex-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus are subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchy.


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