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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends, it is a great pleasure to welcome you all, and to congratulate you of course on your professional holiday – Social Worker’s Day.
We are celebrating this date for the tenth time now in Russia, but it is a real pleasure to see you here today, because this is the first time that we are marking this event at the Kremlin. I think it is right that we should be holding this reception here.
Today, we will honour those who we can call the best in their profession – the winners of the national competition among social workers. We decided to start this competition not so long ago. I think it was during the meeting in October that the decision was made. I think this is a good idea because a competition such as this is always a way of recognising the best, supporting them, and showing the examples to follow. In your profession there are many such people setting worthy examples, and I thank you for all the work you do.
“The people working in our state social welfare system are a very special breed – people who are not indifferent to their fellow human beings, for whom their work is not a mere formality, but a life-long vocation. I congratulate you sincerely on your professional holiday.”
Our state social welfare system goes back a long way now (I learned today that the first decree in this area was signed 310 years ago by Peter the Great, and concerned setting up special institutions to care for the ill and elderly), but whether back in those distant times or right here and now, the people working in this sector are a very special breed – people who are not indifferent to their fellow human beings.
Looking after the ill and the elderly is something that only people for whom their work is not a mere formality, but a life-long vocation, can do. If this were not so, you would not be able to keep working in the difficult conditions that you face, whether in the cities or the rural areas, and for small wages in both cases. I mention the small wages not so as to let you know that I am aware of this problem, but to say that we will make every effort to raise your wages in accordance with our country’s growing possibilities.
This year, you have all been working very hard, as last year, and have helped an enormous number of people. I am not sure how accurate the statistics are, but the figures we have show that you have helped almost 20 million people. That is a big share of our population, a large number of people who cannot live without your help, attention and support. The state authorities, in turn, cannot live without working on developing the foundations of our social welfare system, and we will do this.
I congratulate you sincerely on your professional holiday. I do not know who won in the different nominations. All I can say is that I know you are several dozen winners here, and you will all receive state prizes. To be honest, I think that probably everyone present here today deserves a state prize.
Once again, congratulations on your professional holiday. I wish you health and happiness. We count very much on your work.