PARIS: Russia inaugurates a new state-financed Orthodox cathedral complex near the Eiffel Tower in central Paris on Wednesday without the intended guest of honour, President Vladimir Putin.
Putin last week pulled out of a trip to open the complex, which includes a spiritual center and school as well as the cathedral, after fierce criticism from France of his bombing campaign in Syria.
Putin has given strong financial and political backing to the project which has cost more than 100 million euros. Moscow purchased the land in 2010 from the French state under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.
Putin has developed close bonds with the powerful Russian Orthodox church whose patriarch Kirill has backed the Kremlin leader personally and on policies such as his military intervention in Syria.