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Archons to Honor Mikhail Gorbachev with Athenagoras Human Rights Award

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Aug 17, 2005

New York, NY- Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev "will be honored with the 2005 Athenagoras Human Rights Award by The Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America at the New York Hilton on October 22," according to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Archbishop of America and Exarch of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Dr. Anthony Limberakis, the Order's National Commander, said "Gorbachev is recognized as a world statesman today who was instrumental in ending the Cold War and in promoting religious liberty."

The former Soviet leader currently contributes to international affairs through the Gorbachev Foundation, the first independent think tank in post-Soviet Russia, which he created in 1992, according to Archon George Behrakis, who serves on the Foundation and arranged the presentation of the Athenagoras Award.

The main mission of the Foundation is to provide in-depth analysis of the evolving social, economic and political situation in Russia and the world. With branches in major cities of the Russian Federation, the Foundation has channeled more than $10 million to various humanitarian programs in Russia, particularly in the area of childhood leukemia.

The Order bestows the Athenagoras Human Rights Award each year during its annual meeting in October. Former recipients of this honor are Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush, Mother Theresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Archbishop Iakovos.

Known chiefly for his contribution to tearing down the Iron Curtain, Gorbachev was born in 1931 and ascended to power in Soviet Russia's Communist Party throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Following the death of Konstantin Chernenko in 1985, Gorbachev was appointed general secretary, despite being the youngest member of the politburo. He embarked on a comprehensive program of political, economic, and social liberalization under the slogans of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring").

The resulting shift in international affairs and thinking contributed to a fundamental change in the international environment and played a prominent role in ending the Cold War, stopping the arms race and eradicating the threat of a nuclear war. He stepped down as Head of State in 1991.

In recognition of his outstanding services as a great reformer and world political leader, who greatly contributed in changing for the better the very nature of world development, Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 15, 1990.

Gorbachev has received scores of other awards and honors, including the Gold Medal from the Prometheus National Technological University of Athens and the Gold Medal of Thessaloniki, both in 1993, the Martin Luther King International Peace Award "For a Non-Violent World" for contribution to world peace and human rights in 1991, and the Sir Winston Churchill Award to recognize contribution to peace in the Middle East in 1993.

Baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith, Gorbachev was instrumental in the adoption of legislation that guaranteed religious freedom in the waning days of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which policies were perpetuated in today's Russian Republic.

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