This was the first time that the Order of St. Apostle Andrew, the First-Called, one of the main government decorations, had been awarded. It was given to Valery Shumakov, director of the Research Institute of Transplantology and Artificial Human Organs of Russia.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Putin underscored that medical services must be available to every person and that Russia needed an effective health system combining quality and availability.
A civilised market of private healthcare, he said, must go hand in hand with the establishment of unique medical centres, such as the Research Institute of Transplantology and Artificial Organs.
Despite all difficulties the government was finding and would continue to find additional sources for financing science, education, culture and medicine, the President said. As an example he cited education which would receive 60% more allocations this year than in 2001.
Forty more Russians received state awards.