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    PRESIDENT PUTIN VISITS CONVENT IN VELIKY NOVGOROD

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    VELIKY NOVGOROD, July 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Varlaamo-Khutynsky convent founded in 1192 by St. Barlaam of Khutyn on the right bank of the Volkhov River 10 km away from Veliky Novgorod.

    Nuns greeted the head of state by the entrance.

    The President entered the Transfiguration Church together with the Archbishop of Novgorod and Staraya Russa.

    After that, Vladimir Putin came to the grave of Russian poet Gavriil Derzhavin and lit a candle by it.

    In accordance with the 1615 census, the convent comprised the Savior-Transfiguration Cathedral, the St. Barlaam Church, the St. Elias Church Over-the-Gates, the St. Martyr Grigory's Church and others.

    One of the three bells cast in the 16th century has been preserved in the convent.

    After the 1917 revolution the convent was closed and a political investigation department was located here. After the war it was transformed into a mental hospital. A tourist center was organized here in the 1980s.

    The convent's restoration began in 1992. Today it has tailoring, embroidering and icon-paintings shops and a farm.

    The Transfiguration Cathedral and bank buildings have been completely restored already.

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