March 26, 2014 (ISN) – Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin invited International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven and IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez to the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday (24 March) to present them with the Order of Honour and Order of Friendship, respectively.
The two IPC representatives were among the 40-plus sports leaders and coaches who received state awards for their successful preparation and staging of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.
The private ceremony was broadcast on Russian television and marked the first time that international Paralympic leaders received such high honours from the Russian government.
The Order of Honour, awarded to Sir Philip, recognises high achievements in government, economic, scientific, cultural, public, sport or charitable activities and is denoted by an overlapping blue silk ribbon with a white stripe.
IOC Co-ordination Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Killy was also presented with the Order of Honour.
Sir Philip said: “It was a fantastic ceremony and a very even spread of honours for people from both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“Vladimir Putin has been absolutely adamant all along that the Olympics and Paralympics would be treated equally in Russia, and that is exactly what happened with the Games and with these awards. This means that Paralympic sport has been recognised at an extremely high level in Russia following the amazing performances of the Russian athletes at Sochi 2014.”
The Order of Friendship, awarded to Gonzalez, is presented to those who emit a special merit in strengthening co-operation, peace and friendship between nations for fruitful work on the convergence of cultures and the promotion of major projects or ventures in Russia. The badge of the Order of Friendship is made of gilded silver and enamels.
Gonzalez said: “The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games were record-breaking in terms of athletic performances, media coverage and ticket sales, and could not have been so successful without the support of the Russian people and those involved closely with organising the event for the past seven years.”
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak was awarded the order “For Meritorious Service to the Fatherland” First Class for supervising Sochi 2014 as the government representative.
The Governor of the Krasnodar region, Alexander Tkachev, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, and Director General of the First Channel, Konstantin Ernst, were awarded the order “For Meritorious Services to the Fatherland” Second Class.
Vladimir Lukin, President of the Russian Paralympic Committee, was awarded “For Meritorious Service to the Fatherland” Third Class and Pavel Rozhkov, First Vice President of the Russian Paralympic Committee, was bestowed with the Order of Honour.
President Putin had previously presented state honours to all Russian Paralympians wwho won medals for the host nation at the Sochi 2014 Games, where Russia topped the standings with 80 medals, including 30 golds.
Twelve of those Russian athletes were awarded the order “For Meritorious Service to the Fathlerland” Fourth Class, including six-time Nordic skiing Paralympic champion Roman Petushkov and five-time Nordic skiing medallist Svetlana Konovalova.