Chirac Wins Top State Award

Former French President Jacques Chirac has won a top state award for his humanitarian activities, the Kremlin announced Tuesday.

Chirac, honored for his "outstanding achievements in the humanitarian sphere," will be the only foreigner among nine prominent figures to receive the State Award at a Kremlin ceremony on June 12, according to a presidential decree.

"This is a man who is a brilliant example of how to combine being a statesman and a cultural figure," said Mikhail Piotrovsky, deputy head of the presidential culture and arts council.

"This is a man who has done a lot for Russian culture as a whole," he added, pointing to Chirac's good command of Russian and the fact that as a young man he translated poet Alexander Pushkin's novel in verses, "Yevgeny Onegin," into French.

Yury Osipov, the head of Russia's Academy of Sciences, said Chirac had also developed scientific contacts between Russia and France.

Among the other winners were popular actress Alisa Freindlikh, a veteran of classic Soviet films such as "Office Romance," in which she played a boss who is pursued romantically by one of her employees.

Winners of the award receive a 5 million ruble ($210,800) cash prize. The day of the awards ceremony, June 12, is a national holiday, informally known as independence day.

Reuters, MT