Tbilisi, January 21, 2013
Patriarch Ilia II, who left for Moscow on Sunday, is visiting Russia to receive an award from Russian Orthodox Church’s International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations (IFUOCN).
IFUOCN grants award annually to political and religious leaders, as well as public figures for contribution to “strengthening unity of the Orthodox Christian nations.”
Awarding ceremony will be held in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on January 22.
“A meeting of the Georgian Patriarch and the Russian Patriarch [Kirill] with President Vladimir Putin is scheduled for January 23,” archpriest Giorgi Zviadadze, a spokesperson for the Georgian Patriarchate, told journalists in Tbilisi on Sunday before the Georgian Church delegation left for Moscow.
President Putin congratulated Georgian Orthodox Church leader, who marked his 80th birthday this month and 35th anniversary of enthronement in December, on jubilees and said in a message of congratulation that Patriarch Ilia II’s leadership of the Georgian Orthodox Church was “exemplary” and his contribution to strengthening of Orthodoxy in Georgia “invaluable.”
“We highly appreciate your warm relations with Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church. Your personal efforts, your calls for peace, love, creativity, accord and unity have largely contributed to maintaining multi-century ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples during difficult stages of history,” Putin said in his message. “I am sure that fruitful spiritual, cultural, humanitarian dialogue will become a reliable foundation for further development of relations between Russia and Georgia.”
Mikhail Shvydkoy, the Russian President’s special envoy for international cultural relations, conveyed Putin’s congratulation during his visit to Tbilisi on January 11 when he attended in the Georgian capital events marking Patriarch Ilia II’s birthday and enthronement anniversaries.