* * *
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends,
Our ceremony today is taking place on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day, one of our most important and particularly esteemed holidays. Even before it became a non-working day, it was in fact celebrated as a national holiday. I sincerely congratulate all of you on this day.
The Armed Forces are the guarantors of our security, guarantors of the development of our state and guarantors of the sovereignty of our nation. Even though we always see problems in the progress of the Armed Forces or any other state and social institutions, they are nevertheless the very backbone without which no state can survive.
Today, the Armed Forces are being modernised and are taking on modern shape and structure – in other words, features that our country needs for this century. It is particularly important for the military officers to actively participate in solving this challenge of national importance.
It is widely known that military servicemen prioritise their sense of personal duty, involvement in the processes unfolding in the country, and their responsibility for its security, for the safety of people, including their families. This attitude toward their military service is customary appreciated through state decorations.
The Gold Star of the Hero of the Russian Federation is awarded to strategic submarines unit commander of the Northern Fleet Alexander Moiseyev. During combat patrol, successful tests of the newest weaponry were conducted and numerous missile launches were performed under his command. As Commander-in-Chief, I observed these exercises. And indeed, everything was done very well. I will add that he also has merits in Russian space exploration. In 1998, for the first time ever, two separate space vehicles were launched from an underwater position of a submarine missile cruiser that was then under Mr Moiseyev’s command.
This year, we will also be marking a notable date pertaining to the Great Patriotic War: the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Moscow. Russia will always remember the fortitude and selflessness of the soldiers who fought in the Great Patriotic War, and their example must remain an unconditional moral reference point for all generations of our people. Today, it is a great honour for me to award the Order of Alexander Nevsky to Alexei Sokolov, who participated in two wars: the Finnish War and World War II. In spite of his venerable age (as far as I understand, Mr Sokolov will be 100 years old this March), he continues to remain active in the patriotic education of our youth. Let’s wish him good health. (Applause.)
The Order of Courage is traditionally awarded to the military, but people of civilian professions often display heroism as well, for various reasons. Today, this order is being presented to Felix Artemenko, Igor Bada, Vladimir Kochetov and Tatyana Demina. All of them showed exceptional courage during emergency response to the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Station, in fighting fire at the Sarov Nuclear Centre last year when the situation there was most complicated, and during the tragic events at Yeisk Spit.
Also present today are famous researchers whose work directly supports achievements in modern science. This includes head of the scientific centre on children’s health at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences Alexander Baranov and director of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre Valentin Kostyukov.
And naturally, these festive ceremonies are never complete without awarding state decorations to the prominent figures in Russian culture. I am happy to welcome actors Valentin Gaft and Oleg Menshikov, artistic director of the Maria Yermolova Moscow Drama Theatre Vladimir Andreyev, Conductor of Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre Alexander Lazarev, and many other exceptional people who are present. Their creative achievements are known to all of our people.
I would like to mention one other name. Among us today is an individual who has been teaching music to children for almost half a century. This, too, is very important and really great. I am talking about Yelizaveta Shteinfeld, a teacher from Saratov who has trained thirty winners of international and national music competitions.
As it always happens, I am certainly unable to name everyone who will be receiving state decorations today. It will be better done for me, in a loud, clear voice, announcing the decoration and the corresponding name. Still, I would like to once again say that you are truly engaging in your beloved professions with honour, performing them with extraordinary professionalism, and serving as an entirely vivid example for huge numbers of our citizens. A specific success story always serves as an example for young people, those who are choosing their own paths in life. They are watching you.
I suggest that we proceed to the award ceremony.
* * *
I want to once again congratulate all of you on receiving state decorations. I hope that this day will remain in all of your memories, at the very least because these ceremonies always result in the positive emotions due to receiving awards. At the same time, it is nice to feel your reciprocal emotions, which you are so generously sharing with everyone in this hall, as well as everyone who will see this ceremony on television.
When our dear war veteran spoke, I caught myself thinking that in order to express one’s views on life and the surrounding world so clearly, at such a mature age, it is imperative not only to have good health, but unconquerable will power as well. You truly serve as an example for an enormous number of people. After such trials in life as the ones you have faced, it is amazing to see someone who has not been broken, who captures the audience and reads poetry so easily.
I would like to once again say that another reason for public ceremonies such as awarding state decorations is for our fellow citizens to see the people sitting in this hall and to think about the examples to choose for following. This is very important.
I sincerely congratulate you and wish you all health. I hope that all of you will be in equally excellent shape on your 100th birthdays as our war veteran
My congratulations. (Applause.)