The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, has surprisingly denied that he is the recipient of the “Order of Honor” awarded by Vladimir Putin. After the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the name of the sports official was on a corresponding ukase from Putin.

From the Russian side it was said that the German was honored with the medal for his “contribution to the development of the international Olympic movement and services in the preparation of Russian athletes”. A spokesman for Bach’s WELT AM SONNTAG explained that this statement was incorrect: “The IOC President never accepted this award and therefore never received it.”

Bach’s spokesman said that at the time the IOC only found out about the “public announcement” “from the media”. There was no handover of the order. The Russian embassy in Berlin, which usually presents such medals to German nationals as part of a ceremonial act, did not want to comment on the process when asked.

According to research by the editors, since the beginning of his third term as president in spring 2012, Putin has only awarded the top-class “Order of Honor” to two other Germans besides Bach: his confidante and Nord Stream 2 managing director Matthias Warnig and the entrepreneur Heinrich Weiss, whose industrial group SMS has been operating in Russia for more than 100 years.

During this time, Putin also awarded the “Order of Friendship” to a good dozen Germans. Some of them have returned the award in the meantime. Among them is the former prime minister and SPD party leader Matthias Platzeck, who has repeatedly attracted attention because of his proximity to the Kremlin. He received the award personally from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in 2018.

Platzeck now told WELT AM SONNTAG: “A few days after the start of the war, I returned the order by post to the ambassador. The reason given was Russia’s unjustifiable war of aggression in Ukraine.”

Other medalists, on the other hand, do not want to return the award, as they announced to WELT AM SONNTAG. Among them is Michael Harms, Managing Director of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, and Hans Modrow, the last GDR head of government with an SED party membership.

Semperopernball boss Hans-Joachim Frey said, “the medal has not been handed over or handed over to me to this day”. Other awardees such as the entrepreneur Martin Herrenknecht and the former president of the German War Graves Commission Reinhard Führer did not respond to the newspaper’s inquiry.