Presiding Officer George Reid to receive Russian Foreign Minister's decoration

20/04/2007

The Russian Foreign Minister has awarded Presiding Officer The Rt Hon George Reid a special decoration in recognition of his active and lasting contribution to strengthening multilateral cooperation between the Russian Federation and Scotland.

Mr Reid will be invested with the honour at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Monday 23 April.

The decoration was established in 2004 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. It is awarded to both Russian and foreign individuals who actively promote bilateral links with the Russian Federation, Russian language and culture.

The decision to award a decoration is taken by the Russian Federation ’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Previous foreign recipients include Richard Lee Armitage, US Deputy Secretary of State; Cofer Black, US State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism; Carlos Magarinos, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); and Ian Eliasson, Swedish Foreign Minister.

The Consul General of Russia, Vladimir Malygin said: "Ever since his first visit to our country in 1959, George Reid has demonstrated positive engagement with the people of Russia. He has worked with us on humanitarian relief actions and has done much to strengthen relations between our two countries."

Mr Reid said: "I have had a deep interest in Russian history and culture since I was a student. That has grown into respect and friendship for the Russians with whom I have worked. I thank the Russian Foreign Minister and people for this honour."

Background

Mr Reid studied Russian history and society with Professor John Erickson at the University of St Andrews.

In 1959, he was part of the first delegation of the Scottish Union of Students (including Donald Dewar and David Steel) to visit Moscow, St Petersburg and Kiev.

He has worked since then for recognition of Scots who contributed to Russia - among them Robert Erskine from Alva, physician to Peter the Great and founder to what became the Russian Ministry of Health; and Barclay de Tolly from Banff, the Russian Field Marshall who defeated Napoleon's march on Moscow.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Mr Reid worked closely with the Russian authorities on a wide range of humanitarian programmes in Africa and the Middle East.

In 1988-89 he lived in the USSR as Chief Red Cross delegate in Armenia, following the November 1988 earthquake which killed over 30,000 people.

For his "outstanding record of relief and rehabilitation work" he was awarded the Pirogov Gold Medal, the country's highest humanitarian honour.

He has written widely on Russian issues, particularly on Samuel Marshak, the poet and translator of Robert Burns (the only Scot to feature on a Soviet stamp).

Mr Reid recently joined the Caucasus - Caspian Commission, whose reports will inform discussions in the EU Council of Ministers on relations with the region (Mr M. Margelov, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Council of Federation - Upper Chamber of the Parliament of the Russian Federation - is also a member of the Commission).

In June, Mr Reid will lead a delegation to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and will visit the "hot spots" of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.

The Russian Consulate is based at 58 Melville Street, Edinburgh.

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