Putin awarded Garegin with the Order of Honor for his “great contribution to the development of cultural-humanitarian links between Russia and Armenia.”
The Russian ambassador to Armenia, Sergei Kopyrkin, presented him with the medal during a ceremony held at the church headquarters in Echmiadzin.
Speaking at the ceremony, Garegin praised the Russian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic Churches for their role in close relations between the two nations. They “will make every effort for the further strengthening and perpetuation of this centuries-old friendship,” he said, according to his office.
Garegin also mentioned Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. He expressed hope that Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh will succeed in unblocking it.
Putin’s decision to award Garegin contrasted with the latter’s strained relationship with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
For the last two years, Pashinian and members of his government and political team have boycotted Christmas and Easter liturgies led by Garegin. They were also conspicuously absent from Wednesday’s award ceremony.
Garegin and other senior clergymen had joined the Armenian opposition in calling for Pashinian’s resignation following Armenia’s defeat in the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. The prime minister openly attacked them when he campaigned for the June 2021 parliamentary elections.