The President also presented state decorations to foreign citizens for their contribution to strengthening friendship, cooperation and developing cultural ties with Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also attended the ceremony.
Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin laid flowers at the monument to Minin and Pozharksy in Nizhny Novgorod.
Russia has celebrated the National Unity Day as an official holiday since 2005. The date commemorates the events of 1612 when Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky formed volunteer corps that went on to liberate Moscow from the Polish-Lithuanian interventionist forces.
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Speech at reception marking the National Unity Day
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, friends,
I wish you all my warmest congratulations on this holiday, the National Unity Day, and I welcome you all to this ancient town of Nizhny Novgorod, which played such a special part in strengthening Russia’s statehood, and in the events that took place here almost 400 years ago.
We remember that it was at that moment that Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky formed the volunteer corps that went on to free Moscow from the interventionist forces. We will celebrate the 400th anniversary of this event next year, along with a number of other important anniversaries, including the 1150th anniversary of Russia’s statehood and the 200th anniversary of the end of the Patriotic War of 1812.
These dates commemorate not just important events in our country’s history but also remind us of the importance of national consolidation and of lessons that remain greatly significant for our lives today and for Russia’s future.
Patriotism, civic spirit, and love for the Fatherland are the fundamental values that have always cemented the multi-ethnic Russian state. Today too, they are our moral backbone and centuries-old heritage, and are at the same time a symbol of the young democratic Russia, a country that today is pursuing new goals and tasks, such as building a modern and innovative economy, technologically upgrading its industry, modernising the way the country is run, and indeed, modernising every sphere of public life.
We are strengthening our civil society and institutions of public representation, and are renewing and modernising our legal system and law enforcement agencies. We are making our social policy more effective, working to make our education system, our schools and universities among the best, and are paying particular attention to educating a modern and creative young generation.
”Russia does indeed have a tremendous advantage – the interethnic peace that our country forged and that our forebears have handed on down through the centuries. It is our duty to preserve and develop this heritage.“
These goals are possible only in a country that lives a normal life based on civic peace, mutual understanding, solidarity between our people, and care and respect for our historical and cultural heritage and spiritual traditions.
Russia does indeed have a tremendous advantage – the interethnic peace that our country forged and that our forebears have handed on down through the centuries. It is our duty to preserve and develop this heritage, which without exaggeration we can call one of our history’s greatest achievements. In many parts of our country there are now special groups working on harmonising interethnic and interfaith relations, and their members include people from political, public, and religious organisations.
I particularly want to note today the constructive efforts our traditional religions make, and I take this opportunity to thank the spiritual leaders here for their invaluable contribution to strengthening tolerance in our country.
It also gives me great pleasure to welcome today the members of the World Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots and the delegates to the fifth Russian World Foundation Assembly, which traditionally takes place in the run-up to the National Unity Day. We support all the significant work you do to preserve the Russian world as a common information and cultural space. We also greatly value the efforts you make to popularise the Russian language.
Starting this year, June 6, Alexander Pushkin’s birthday, is being marked as Russian Language Day. This year, we established the Foundation for the Support and Defence of Compatriots’ Rights. One of its main tasks is to protect our compatriots’ right to their native language. Starting next year, the new federal programme for work with compatriots abroad will start work over a three-year period. I am sure that these decisions will help to preserve unity among the many millions of people who together make up the Russian World.
Friends, ladies and gentlemen, you all live in different countries, but you keep strong attachments to Russia, and this is reflected in the growing interest in our history and in our country’s modern life. The Russian World’s heart is here in Russia of course. We have great need of each other – our people here, and our compatriots abroad, and also our foreign friends who help to spread and preserve our great culture.
Once again, I congratulate you on the National Unity Day, and in keeping with what has become the tradition over these last years, I want to present state decorations and propose now that we begin the award ceremony.
I am very pleased that we are meeting not in the Moscow Kremlin, as is usually the case on the National Unity Day, but here in Nizhny Novgorod. I am sure that everyone present appreciates this because this city does indeed have special significance in the history of our country’s liberation movement at that moment of history.
At the same time, Nizhny Novgorod is one of Russia’s big and important cities, and I am sure you have all found it interesting to have the chance to get to know it, all the more so with such brilliant weather as Nizhny Novgorod has put on for us on this early November day.
It was with great pleasure that I listened to all our friends had to say. It is very good to see that our country has such a large number of good friends who love our culture, have outstanding command of the Russian language, and want to develop all manner of good and friendly relations between their countries and Russia.
I wish you great success in this work. Know that we are ready to work with you, for we greatly appreciate your efforts and consider your work extremely important for modern development in our world today.
Consolidation is always very important. It was important 400 years ago, when our people came together and defeated the enemy, and it is important now, when we face a huge number of trials and difficulties. I was in France yesterday, where the leaders of the world’s twenty biggest economies got together to look for solutions to the economic crisis. Consolidation is exactly what all of humanity needs to ensure that we have a future.
I wish you my warmest congratulations on the National Unity Day.