ilia ii moscow 2013-01-20

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (left), welcoming Georgian Patriarch Ilia II (right) in Moscow Jan. 20, 2013. (Photo published by the Russian Church.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — Georgia’s Patriarch Illia II on Sunday left for Russia to receive an award. His visit will also include a meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“I want to ask you that I leave for Moscow and we will have a conversation on very important issues and you pray, ask God to open the door of mercy,” the patriarch said in an appeal to the parish before leaving, without specifying what issues he will be discussing in Russia.

He is to receive the Russian Church’s Award of the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations, which is granted annually in recognition to someone who has worked to strengthen the unity of Orthodox Christian nations.

The ceremony will be attended by ambassadors of other countries, as well as Russian government officials. In total, 1 500 guests are expected.

Giorgi Zviadadze, spokesperson for the Georgian Church, called the Patriarchy, told journalists that Ilia II will meet with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow at 03:00 pm on Monday, at the residence of the Russian Patriarch, Kirill I of Moscow, who will also attend the meeting.

According to Lasha Zhvania, chair of the Patriarch’s Fund, Ilia II will review the issue to bring the bodies of Georgian Kings Teimuraz I and Vakhtang VI back to Georgia. Georgia’s territorial integrity is also on the agenda.