President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Gergiev, I would like to wish you a happy birthday and thank you for everything you do for Russian art and the world art in general, especially musical art, and for our culture, Russian culture.
Your contribution over the years has been enormous. We go back a long way since I worked in Leningrad, now St Petersburg.
Valery Gergiev: Mr Sobchak…
Vladimir Putin: Yes. I remember you taking on the Mariinsky Theatre. Literally from the first steps, the theatre has turned into – truth be told, it has always been a theatre with great traditions – but under your leadership it has become a world stage, no doubt about it. Both the opera and the ballet are top level and first class internationally and serve as models for many performers and companies around the world. It is no coincidence that your theatre enjoys well-deserved high standing in our country and internationally.
I won’t talk about the current situation in the world of art. I am making a point of not delving into it now. On the contrary, I would like to emphasise that art is beyond politics. This is what matters most. With all of that in mind, I cannot fail to note your – I would not even call it a civic position – but patriotism both with regard to your small Motherland and in relation to Russia as a whole.
I wish you a happy anniversary and congratulate you on receiving a state award. As a matter of fact, the most important award for you is recognition from the public, recognition from connoisseurs of musical art, which is your personal achievement, and we are all proud to witness your blossoming creativity which millions of people around the world enjoy.
My best wishes.
Valery Gergiev: Thank you very much.