Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Today we mark an anniversary of the Declaration of the State Sovereignty of Russia. That document marked the beginning of our new history, the history of a democratic state based on civil freedoms and the rule of law. Its main purpose is the success, prosperity and well-being of Russian citizens.
Eleven years ago we embarked on a road towards a new country, a new country above all in the relations with society and the citizen.
Back in 1990 the Congress deputies who voted for the Declaration responded to the bidding of the time. Change was generated within society through great suffering and was therefore welcome.
A gigantic turnaround took place. Today we live in a different country. The nature of Russian government and statehood has changed, as has its constitutional system. The government has a new democratic face.
Contrary to the forecasts of pessimists, we quickly assimilated the main principles of democracy and the market economy. We have learned, at long last, to order our life without promptings from outside.
Everything we have lived through over these years, the whole of our experience, both our successes and our mistakes, points in one direction. Reforms have meaning only if they serve the people. If reforms do not benefit the citizens, they fail.
Herein lies the main lesson of Russian democracy. We must remember it today on Russia Day. Gathered here in the Kremlin are the people who make government decisions.
I would like to stress that all the transformations have been initiated for the sake of the citizens of Russia. And a worthy life of the individual has been proclaimed as the supreme goal in the Declaration of State Sovereignty.
June 12 marks another memorable date, the 10th anniversary of the institution of presidency in Russia. That day is historically associated with the name of Boris Yeltsin, the first President of Russia. I would like to congratulate Mr Yeltsin, and I am happy to announce that I have signed a decree to decorate the first President of Russia with the Order of Service to the Fatherland, 1st class.
Our challenge today is to prove that democracy in Russia is not a temporary phenomenon or something that will last for one presidential term. It is in this country to stay. Democracy and civil freedom is a condition of society which has to be upheld on a daily basis.
One decade is not a long time in historical terms. But Russia Day, which we are celebrating today, has already become a holiday in this country, the country that we are building and for which we are responsible together.
I would like to propose a toast:
To the people of Russia,
To peace and accord,