The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was yesterday presented with the Russian Order of Friendship, for his “outstanding contribution to the cooperation and friendly relations between Russia and the UK”.
The honour, which was awarded by Russian presidential decree by President Dmitry Medvedev, was presented by the Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Mr Yury Fedotov, who said “What the Archbishop is doing helps tremendously to establish better understanding and to set a better climate in relations between Russia and the UK.”
The Archbishop has studied and written widely on Russian religious philosophy throughout his career, notably in his doctoral thesis on the theology of Vladimir Lossky, on Sergii Bulgakov (Towards a Russian Political Theology, 1999), and his recent book on Fyodor Dostoevsky (Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction , 2008).
On receiving the award at the Russian Embassy, Dr Williams spoke of this lifelong interest in and affection for Russian culture: “The depths and challenges of the Russian world have continued to play a crucial part in my own life, in my mind and in my heart.”
“It is a very special personal honour, and an immense personal privilege to be recognised in this way so unexpectedly.”
The Director of the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, Dr Ekaterina Genieva, also surprised the Archbishop with the presentation of a special bilingual edition of his selected poems printed in Moscow for the occasion.
Other recent recipients of the award include HRH Prince Michael of Kent.
Notes to editors:
A video of the Archbishop receiving the award can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3K4d3w4I1k