The President also marked Defender of the Fatherland Day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexander Garden.
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Speech at ceremony presenting certificates conferring the honorary title of City of Military Glory on the towns of Vladivostok, Tikhvin, and Tver
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends, veterans, I welcome you all to the Kremlin and congratulate you on Defender of the Fatherland Day!
Service in our country’s defence has always enjoyed great respect in Russia through the ages. It has always been the calling of people of strength and fortitude, people for whom there is nothing more important than their military duty and their love for their homeland.
The decision to confer the title of City of Military Glory on Russian towns is part of these traditions of defending our country. You will recall that this was a relatively recent decision, a decision made in the new Russia. It has taken form in accordance with the federal law of May 9, 2006.
The honorary title of City of Military Glory is not just about preserving our traditions and paying tribute to our forebears, but also places special responsibility on these towns’ residents, on their authorities, and on everyone who loves their country and region. This is the responsibility of looking after monuments and memorials, and contributing to their hometown’s development in general.
The titles of City of Military Glory are being conferred today on Vladivostok, Tikhvin, and Tver. Each of these places has made a unique contribution to our country’s development.
“The honorary title of City of Military Glory is not just about preserving our traditions and paying tribute to our forebears, but also places special responsibility on these towns’ residents and authorities for their region, for looking after monuments and memorials, and contributing to their hometown’s development in general.”
Vladivostok celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. I visited the city for those events and it was a great pleasure to congratulate the city’s residents then.
Vladivostok’s history has always gone hand in hand with that of the Pacific Fleet. The Pacific Fleet’s sailors took part in practically every conflict of the twentieth century, in every war: the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, and the Great Patriotic War, fighting bravely at sea and on land, and ensuring that supplies of goods kept getting through. Today, Vladivostok remains not just Russia’s advance post on the Pacific coast, but is also an open city with huge potential, a city in the midst of change as it prepares to hold the big event that will take place there soon.
History knows many examples of how victory was decided not just in the big battles but also in local encounters, in which the heroism shown by a single town’s defenders had a decisive impact on strategy and operations in general and ultimately shaped the war’s outcome.
The small Russian town of Tikhvin, located at the crossroads of the trade routes on our country’s northwest borders, has been known since the fourteenth century. Its people withstood invaders during earlier times of troubles, defending their town and fighting for Russia’s integrity. The fate of Leningrad was decided in fierce battles at this site during the most difficult hour of the Great Patriotic War. The counteroffensive organised near Tikhvin made it possible to tie down substantial numbers of the Nazi forces, and thwarted their plans to join up with the Finnish troops. People in Tikhvin today continue to cherish and preserve the memory of the fallen soldiers, and look after the burial sites. I hope this will always remain so.
Another city receiving this honorary title today is Tver. One of Russia’s ancient lands, Tver remembers our ancestors’ battles against the Golden Horde, the Time of Troubles, the Patriotic War of 1812, and of course the events of the Great Patriotic War.
This year, we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Moscow. Moscow’s fate – and thus the fate of our entire country – was decided on the fields of the surrounding regions and the approaches to the capital. The Nazi forces made a strategic decision to bypass Moscow and strike a blow from the north, but they met the courageous resistance of the people of Tver, or Kalinin, as the city was called at that moment, and were forced to retreat. I hope that Tver will continue to nurture and build on these glorious traditions, and continue to pay great attention to its young people’s patriotic education.
Dear friends, before beginning the presentation ceremony, I want to congratulate you all once again on this national holiday. I take this opportunity to wish the veterans good health and long life. We very much need you to pass on your experience to our young generation. And our young people need to learn to love their homeland just as our dear veterans have always done. I wish you all the very best, peace, and prosperity!
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends,
When presenting these kinds of state certificates and conferring titles, you cannot help thinking about the picture you have of these towns in your own mind. I have been lucky enough to have the chance to visit all three of these towns. I visited Tikhvin sometime at the start of the 1990s, and as for Vladivostok and Tver, I have visited them on a number of occasions. I think it is very symbolic that we have these three towns today.
”Young people need to learn to love their homeland just as our dear veterans have always done.“
When I was in the Far East and spoke with the people organising all the work out there, they said, “We have such a vast country, stretching all the way from Kaliningrad to the Far East, Vladivostok, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, but in the whole of the Far East there is not a single city of military glory. Did our forebears never perform feats of glory? Did nothing ever happen?” It is very good that we now have our first city of military glory in the Far East, symbolising our people’s spiritual greatness and our country’s vastness.
The other two towns honoured today also both hold a very important place in our country’s history and are living their lives. The Mayor of Tver said just before that Tver’s residents consider this a big event in their city’s life.
Symbols do play a very important part in our life. But I think it is just as important that your towns’ people see your daily work to improve life there, build new facilities, develop social infrastructure, and build new housing, because along with spiritual achievements, material results are also needed. This is the direct duty of the authorities, of those responsible for our towns’ order and development.
In presenting these certificates, I therefore call on the regional and municipal leaders to do everything possible so that the people of our wonderful towns of Vladivostok, Tikhvin, and Tver see that they really do live in towns worthy of the title conferred today, modern towns that remember their history.
Friends, veterans, once again, I congratulate you on Defender of the Fatherland Day, and wish you health and happiness.