Mr Putin gave the Primate of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church best wishes from Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
Patriarch Maxim conferred on Mr Putin the Order of King Boris, the highest award of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, for his extraordinary contribution to the cause of strengthening the authority of Christian Orthodoxy. Members of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church attended the decoration ceremony.
Mr Putin visited the Memorial Church of St Alexander Nevsky the same day. In the church a journalist asked him about the role of the Church in strengthening the state. Mr Putin replied that the Orthodox Church played a tremendous role in Russian and Bulgarian history by preserving ethnic identity, strengthening political contacts between the two nations and forming their cultural unity.