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The President of the Republic took part in a festive awarding ceremony in Moscow

President Arnold Rüütel took part in the festive award presenting ceremony of the International Foundation of the Unity of Orthodox PeoplesPresident Arnold Rüütel on Friday, January 21, in Moscow took part in the festive award presenting ceremony of the International Foundation of the Unity of Orthodox Peoples.

In his speech delivered at the ceremony, the Head of Estonian state thanked the Foundation for the high award. "Being the President of Estonia I consider this award as an expression of recognition to the Estonian state, which will be 87 years old next month - an expression of recognition from an old Church with thousands of years long Christian tradition. That tradition has educated and shaped all of us by many different ways," President Rüütel said and continued emphasising: "In our changed world our responsibility is to protect the basic values of life, it is our task to take life forward but doing so not to forget to look back at the past."

Addressing to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, President Rüütel referred to the work the future primate of the Russian Orthodox Church as a priest and metropolitan did in Estonia. "Herewith I would like to point out also the founding of the Estonian Council of Churches, which took place in the Dormiton (Pukhtitsa) Convent in Kuremäe 16 years ago. The Estonian Council of Churches has become a forum for different ways of Christian thinking and traditions in Estonia. Among the members and the ecumenical core of the Council there are representatives of Estonians, Russians, Armenians, Ukrainians, Finns and other ethnic communities living in Estonia," the President of the Republic said.

The Head of Estonian state announced that he would donate the monetary prize, which is a part of that high award to the Estonian Council of Churches to be used for charitable purposes.

At the ceremony held in the Church Councils Hall of Christ the Saviour's Cathedral, which had been destroyed by an order of Stalin and has been since built up again, the recipients of the award delivered their addresses in their mother tongue. Before the laureates, the floor was given to Patriarch Alexy II and the President of the International Foundation Valeri Aleksejev (PhD). The awarding ceremony was followed by a festive concert in the same hall.

President Rüütel was awarded for "outstanding activities in strengthening the unity of Orthodox peoples". The award for the year 2004 was given beside the Head of Estonian state also to His Holiness Patriarch Maksim of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sophia; President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation Jevgeni Primakov; and the Orthodox Society of Jordan.

The award was founded in 2000 and the foundation distributing the award was founded in 1995 with the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II. The International Foundation of the Unity of Orthodox Peoples facilitates the promotion of cultural and social cooperation of Orthodox peoples. (

Till today, an exhibition showing the activities of Patriarch Alexy II and the treasures of church has been open in Christ the Saviour's Cathedral. The exhibition is dedicated to the Patriarch's recent 75th jubilee. In near future the exhibition will be brought to the Patriarch's birth country, where it will be opened in the Art Museum of Estonia.

On Saturday, January 22, the President of the Republic attends a divine liturgy on the memory day of St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia in the Dormition Cathedral of the Kremlin. After that, Patriarch Alexy II hosts a reception in honour of the President of the Republic in the Residence of Moscow Patriarchate at Predelkino. Later at night President Rüütel will leave Moscow for Kiev to participate in the inauguration ceremony of the new president of Ukraine Viktor Juschenko on January 23.

The Head of state will arrive back to Estonia on Monday, January 24.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, January 22, 2005

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