Three British seamen who took part in the rescue operation to save the Kursk nuclear submarine have been presented with a high government award - the Order of Friendship.
The awards were handed to Raymond John Walles, in charge of divers at the diving vessel Mayo, Alexander Donald MacLeod, captain of the Mayo, and Malcolm Daly, head of the Kursk lifting operation of the Mamut company.
Russia's ambassador to Britain Grigory Karasin said that the British sailors were awarded the high government decorations for bravery shown in rescue work in the Barents Sea, where the Kursk nuclear submarine sank on August 12, 2000.
According to the ambassador, this tragedy sent a shock echoing through Russia and all over the world. It claimed 118 lives of submarine crew members. At that hour of trial the governments of Britain and other countries came to Russia's assistance. "A friend in need is a friend indeed", the ambassador emphasised.
Raymond John Walles, speaking on behalf of the decorated men, said that for him it was a great honour to receive a high Russian government award. According to him, this tragedy united all people - the Russians, the British, the Dutch and members of other nationalities. The men honoured expressed condolences to the families of those whose near and dear ones died in the Kursk disaster.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.