Speech following a prayer service at St Panteleimon Monastery 2016-05-28 18:15:00 Mount Athos President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Holiness, Reverend fathers, Father Jeremiah, fathers and brethren. I am glad to have this opportunity to once again visit the Russian St Panteleimon Monastery. It had a lofty spiritual mission historically, and continues to perform it today, being cherished by Orthodox believers from Russia and other countries for that reason. Unlike the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, I didn't come here 40 years ago, but I did come here in 2005 and I can say today that the changes are unbelievable, wonderful. It was with great honour that I accepted your invitation to attend the 1,000th anniversary of the first written account of Russian monks on Mount Athos. I want to stress once again that the anniversary preparations have been laborious. Events to mark this day are taking place in a coordinated fashion in Russia, Greece and on Mount Athos, and we are to thank both the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Church of Greece for this. I want to highlight that Russia and Mount Athos have long shared close religious ties. The traditions of Mount Athos have played an important role in the life of Russians. Today, Russia’s interest in Mount Athos remains strong. Recently, the historical sites linked to the Russian presence on Mount Athos have been preserved and renovated thanks to the enthusiastic efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church, and with the support and direct participation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia himself, as well as the donors that the Patriarch has mentioned. I am especially glad to note the visible improvements at your monastery. I am glad to see you in good health, your Reverence. You have made an invaluable contribution to the movement of the Russian pilgrimage. As the Patriarch just said, Russian monks on Mount Athos had to live through difficult times in the 20th century. Out of several thousand monks who lived here in 1913, only dozens remained later, and only a few even later. The first visit of Patriarch Pimen of Moscow and All Russia in 1972 marked the revival of the St Panteleimon Monastery. It was indeed very difficult to travel here from Russia at the time, and even more difficult to go visit our country. Today, numerous believers from Russia and other Slavic countries come to your monastery to venerate the relics of Mount Athos. It is important to continue doing everything to ensure that this little corner of Russia on Mount Athos continues to consolidate the spirit of all Orthodox believers. I would like to thank you, your Reverence, and the brethren for the warm hospitality extended to our compatriots. You show us an example of adhering to the principles of humanity, goodness and justice. These traditional moral and cultural values are a benchmark and support for all of us, crucial for keeping peace, making Russia stronger, and preserving the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church. I would like to wish your monastery prosperity, and I hope each and every one of you enjoys robust health and leads a long life. So help us God. Christ has risen.