2008-12-05 17:25:00

Death of Alexy II a tragic and sorrowful event Putin

Moscow, December 5, Interfax - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II was one of the greatest representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and a major statesman, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in Moscow on Friday.

"The death of the Patriarch is really a very tragic and sorrowful event. He was a very serene man. It is a great loss," Putin said.

Alexy II was "the true Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia," he said.

"Not only was he a prominent figure in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church, but also a great statesman," the prime minister said.

Patriarch Alexy II "made a very considerable contribution to relations between various faiths," Putin said. "It would not be an exaggeration to say that he had friendly relations with representatives of all traditional faiths in Russia," he added.

"He did a great deal to help establish a new governance system in Russia," he said.

Putin's remarks came ahead of his meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian in Moscow. Putin thanked Sarkisian, who, on behalf of the Armenian authorities, extended condolences over the Patriarch's death.