President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear comrades!
I congratulate you on your promotion to senior command positions and the corresponding ranks.
The promotion of senior officers traditionally takes place in the Kremlin. And this celebratory gathering is also a sign of the special, profound respect we have for the work of the military and our recognition of its high value and great responsibility. Our officers have always been a symbol of Russia’s strength and dignity, and of selfless and devoted service to the Fatherland.
Today Russia competes increasingly confidently in the economic, political and military spheres. And we must frankly acknowledge that many are not pleased with this development. Perhaps some forces in the world would like to see us remain weak, and to see our country develop according to laws dictated from outside.
Nevertheless, every year Russia demonstrates increasing autonomy and ability to resolve its internal problems, to solve them alone without looking to others for guidance, as well as the capacity to influence the development of the global economy and the modern world order.
Our decisive actions in response to the Georgian aggression showed that Russia is able to protect its people and its national interests, and that its Armed Forces are capable and professional.
I must pay special tribute to the bravery of soldiers and officers who liberated Tskhinvali, and to the peacekeepers who performed their duty with honour. Following these tragic events the fact that we need to revise our existing approaches to global and regional security has become even more evident.
I am convinced that such approaches must be based on international law, a multipolar world order, the mutual respect for each others’ interests and the desire to collectively participate in the neutralization of threats. I would emphasise that the Russian Federation will continue to participate in the peacekeeping activities of international organisations and provide troops on the basis of its international obligations. But we absolutely do not want to return to the Cold War or start an arms race.
We are convinced that this development would not benefit anyone, but only exacerbate existing serious common problems that require joint efforts to resolve, and there are quite a few such problems in the world today, including in the economy.
Dear comrade officers! Recent events oblige us to improve the security of our country and do so based on a sound assessment of existing threats. Such an approach is founded on the refined parameters for the combat forces of the Armed Forces which I approved on 15 September 2008. In general we are talking about their modern shape. We are obliged to fully achieve all the indicators in this regard by 2020.
Along with refurbishing and improving the mobility of the army and navy, we need to strengthen our nuclear deterrence forces, establish a unified system of air-space defence, and increase Russia’s status as a great maritime power. And of course we must improve the management structure of the Armed Forces and the entire military organisation of the state.
Social provisions for servicemen and members of their families remain our constant priority. As of 1 January 2009 servicemen who have demonstrated exceptional service will receive a monthly supplement to their cash allowance ranging from 35,000 to 160,000 rubles, depending on their positions.
It is clear that the new era poses new challenges to all institutions, including the power agencies. In this context the early detection by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service of external threats to national security takes on increased importance. The fight against armed gangs seeking to destabilize the country and especially the North Caucasus remains at the centre of the attention of security forces.
This year, the Federal Security Service of Russia has thwarted the activities of 130 terrorist and extremist organizations. Transnational criminal groups and conduits for smuggling weapons and drugs are their main feeding channels.
In this regard we need to improve the protection of our state borders by using more advanced technology. It is important to enhance international cooperation in this field with the CIS, the SCO and the CSTO. A joint task of the FSS and the agencies of the Interior Ministry in the coming years will be ensuring security around the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2014.
I would like to mention something else as well. The Russian Interior Ministry is presently developing effective mechanisms to protect the rights of its citizens. In this regard particular emphasis should be placed on countering extremism and nationalism. In just the past few days a group of people who committed racially motivated crimes in Moscow received a harsh sentence. And this should serve as a serious lesson to those who seek to break up our society and violate civil harmony in Russia.
Today the anti-corruption efforts of law enforcement agencies and civil society institutions are also coming to the fore. I have adopted a national anti-corruption plan and we have identified priorities in this area. Today we will hold a special meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council where we will approve a final package of legislation that I will then put to the State Duma for ratification.
Today I would especially emphasise work to ensure public order and stability in South Ossetia. Upon receiving the first signal the personnel of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry quickly set up a mobile hospital in Tskhinvali, delivered food, and housed the homeless. Investigative authorities worked urgently in the zone of hostilities and recorded crimes committed by the aggressor. The Interior Troops of the Interior Ministry and the divisions of the Federal Migration Service demonstrated a high level of competency. At present more than 60 installations are being restored in South Ossetia by Russia’s Spetsstroi. Military construction agencies have other successes to record: facilities in Novaya Zemlya, in the archipelago of Franz Josef Land, housing and social infrastructure for the military in Vilyuchinsk, the Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic, as well as the reconstruction of housing in Nevelsk, Sakhalin after an earthquake. The Federal Guard Service of the Russian Federation is fulfilling its tasks honourably. One of the most important tasks of the Prosecutor General's Office and law enforcement officials remains monitoring the spending of budgetary funds, including those that are allocated to preparations for the Olympics, creating infrastructure, as well as the implementation of priority national and other large-scale projects. Drug control authorities also demonstrate increased efficiency. We hope that the establishment of foreign missions of the Federal Service for the Control of Drugs Circulation will make joint work against drugs even more productive. The State Anti-Drug Committee has to play an important role in this matter. The penitentiary system must face challenges concerning the humanisation of penal convictions and the social adaptation of convicts. We must expand the use of punishments other than imprisonment. And in this respect we are waiting for proposals from legislators and law enforcement agencies.
Comrade officers! In conclusion I would like to once again congratulate you on this significant event in your career. I am confident that you will continue to honourably perform your duties. I sincerely thank you for your service and wish you and your families good health, happiness and prosperity.
Dmitry Medvedev: Comrade officers!
We are in one of the most beautiful rooms of the Grand Kremlin Palace, in the St George Hall, the hall of military glory of our Fatherland. This hall contains much evidence of the military exploits our ancestors committed in the name of our homeland. The historical significance of these achievements is boundless and names of these heroes are written forever in the annals of the Russian military.
Soldiers and officers in the contemporary Russian army study these glorious examples that precede them. And there are people here today whose heroism represents another bright page in the history of our country.
During the recent developments in South Ossetia, Russia was faithful to its international obligations and moral duties, and acted decisively in defence of peace in that republic. You did not hesitate to come to the aid of your comrades who were serving as peacekeepers. You stopped the Georgian aggression, saved thousands of people from extermination, prevented further bloodshed in the Caucasus and refused to allow the region to be plunged into a large-scale and murderous war.
Standing before us are the leaders and representatives of the Russian Army, Air Force and Navy. All of you have shown great responsibility and a clear understanding of the objectives of our actions in South Ossetia. These highest awards – the Hero of Russia Star and the highest military award, the Order of St George — are a testament to your courage. Allow me to congratulate you all and to bestow these awards.
Please convey our best wishes to your families as well. We know how proud of you they are.
On this occasion, I would also like to congratulate the representatives of the ground troops of the Russian Army on the occasion of their holiday, which will be celebrated tomorrow.
Dmitry Medvedev: Dear comrade officers!
Once again, I would like to warmly congratulate all those who have just received these highest awards, and congratulate those who have been appointed to new positions, those who have received new titles.
I think that it perfectly clear to you that after the events that occurred in August of this year, our life has not become any easier. In fact the determination with which Russia was forced to stand up for ordinary people, for those who had Russian passports, carrying out its obligations under international mandate, was never going to satisfy the large number of forces that believe that only they have the power to influence the climate on our planet, that only they are capable of taking meaningful action. I would go even further: they will not forgive us for this.
But we should not let this upset us, because this was the only response available to us. Otherwise, we would have no longer respected ourselves, we would have lost the Caucasus, and, ultimately, would have lost Russia itself. I think I do not need to prove to you this simple truth: Russia can either be big and strong, or it will cease to exist. This morsel will prove too tasty to resist, our lands and our natural resources will attract too many envious glances, all our capacities will be sought after. The world has not become any easier, but another force has emerged that is capable of maintaining order in the world. And perhaps that is the principal lesson of the Caucasian War.
Other, very complex processes are now unfolding. As you know, the planet is currently going through a very difficult economic crisis. This will be also used to weaken us and to get us to make decisions that are economically unacceptable. We will not give in. Of course at the same time we will seek to establish normal relations, make friends with anyone who wants friendship, and develop economic ties. The most important thing is that we now realise one very simple thing: we are responsible for our own destiny. I am sure that at your posts you will make every effort to protect and strengthen our beloved homeland.
I warmly congratulate you once again.