President Vladimir Putin received Spain’s King Juan Carlos yesterday as the monarch makes a working visit to Russia at the President’s invitation.
The King was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation, the highest honor bestowed by Russia, and it was personally presented by President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m very proud to join the distinguished group of people who have received this prize … Russia and Spain are old and great states whose relations sink their roots in history,” said Juan Carlos in his acceptance speech.
The monarch, who arrived in Russia on Wednesday at the head of a large business delegation, received the award for his humanitarian activity and for his part in Spain’s post-Franco transition to democracy.
Putin thanked to the King for expressing his condolences following the tragedy in the south of Russia where a devastating flood took more than 170 lives.
The honor was bestowed on the King in February 2011, by then-president, Dmitri Medvedev, now the country’s prime minister.
At the time, the King was unable to collect the prize and decided to donate the 125,000 euros that accompanied the award to the Spanish city of Lorca to help fix the damage caused by an earthquake in May 2011.
This is the only top official honor awarded in Russia and the only one that can be given to foreigners.
Past recipients of the award include writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the former French President Jacques Chirac.