During the ceremony, the President announced that 2018 is declared Year of Volunteers in Russia.
The awards were presented in the Event Volunteering, Social and Medical Assistance, and Victory Volunteer categories. The President presented the award to Maxim Tokarev, head of the Save Baikal project, and winner in the Volunteer of the Year category.
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Speech at the award ceremony
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
I sincerely welcome everyone in this audience, everyone with a good heart and pure thoughts, unselfish, active and responsive people.
I have always had great respect for the people who seek to help others, to do good for their country, their city, their village, and spare no time or energy for the sake of the common cause. This clear, simple and, at the same time, noble motivation underlies your actions and thoughts, the hopes of millions of our citizens for Russia, their responsibility for the destiny of our country and its future.
As you may be aware, Anton Chekhov once famously said, “There are so many good people in Russia.” He was also speaking about you. This has always been the case, because caring for people, charity and willingness to join efforts and help out those in need, and to serve the Fatherland are part of the soul, the nature and the culture of our people.
The heroic feat of the volunteers who defended the Fatherland is also part of Russia’s great history. We have just talked about the Great Patriotic War. I remember how my father, Vladimir Putin, who, in 1941, had an exemption from active duty, which allowed him to work in the rear, went ahead and volunteered for the front.
The traditions of selfless work of the world’s first medical nurses, rural doctors and teachers, the good will of those who donated to schools, hospitals, charity institutions and churches, and the enthusiasm of those who left their homes for nationwide construction projects – these traditions have been revitalised in the movement of volunteers. It has brought together people of different ages and professions, who aspire to do good and who go wherever their knowledge and empathy, selfless assistance, warm hearts and compassion are needed.
Volunteers work at hospitals and social facilities, help find missing persons, help disaster victims, protect the environment and cultural landmarks, that is, our culture, trace the names of fallen soldiers and help us host the largest international events. The number of such examples of civil involvement and sympathy is growing with every passing year.
I am convinced that trust, respect and mutual assistance in society is based on the thousands and millions of such sincere and warm-hearted acts. This means that we can accomplish any task, even the most difficult ones. In this connection, I propose declaring 2018 the Year of Volunteers in recognition of your services to the people, the ordinary people whom you help and support, and your contribution to the country’s development. It will be your year, the year of all Russian citizens whose will, energy and open heartedness are Russia’s biggest strength.
I know that today you will celebrate the best volunteers. I would like to congratulate the winners, to join the warm words you will hear today and to wish you all the best.
Thank you very much.
Sports commentator Dmitry Guberniyev, ceremony moderator: Mr President, we have a small favour to ask of you. Today we are celebrating the best of the best. Today is a big day for our young people. We ask you to present the main prize in the most prestigious category.
Presenter: Victory in the Volunteer of the Year category goes to Maxim Tokarev, head of the Save Baikal international public project.
Maxim Tokarev: Thank you for appreciating my work, my contribution to the preservation of Lake Baikal. I would like to thank my family and my team. I would not be standing here without them. Thank you for such a wonderful celebration. It is very important for volunteers to know that their selfless work is appreciated.
It is important for us to see how much attention is given to the volunteer movement in this country. Friends, it is great that next year has been announced the Year of Volunteers! This means so much for millions of people in Russia. Volunteers have big plans for the future and much must be done. And this country has big plans for volunteers!
Could you tell us, Mr President, will you be with us next year, as we hope you will?
Vladimir Putin: I am always with you. As I said, this is family business for us.
Dmitry Guberniyev: Mr President, as I understand it, Maxim and we all want to ask you the following question. Many have already made their decision and announced their plans to take part in the presidential election in spring of 2018. Could you please tell us whether you are going to run for President at these elections?
Vladimir Putin: This is a very responsible decision because it is only motivated by a striving to improve the life of people in this country, to make it more powerful, protected and oriented towards the future. It is only possible to reach these goals if people trust and support you. In this context, (you asked me this question via your moderator) I would like to ask you a question. If I make this decision, will you and like-minded people support it?
Response from the hall: Yes!
Vladimir Putin: I understand that this decision should be made soon and it will be made soon. In making it, I will certainly consider our current conversation and your response.
Thank you very much! Good luck!