Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
To begin with, I would like to congratulate you from the bottom of my heart on receiving state awards. These awards symbolise the state’s high opinion of journalism—of the contribution you have made to the emergence and development of the Russian mass media, and the development of Russian democracy, civil society and statehood.
Your job demands the highest possible dedication and professionalism. Many journalists in this audience have come through hotbeds of conflicts. I want to make a special mention of journalists’ work in Chechnya. The peace process is gaining momentum there largely through your achievements. You have been working all these years in extremely hard conditions. In fact, you were frontline correspondents. You have firsthand knowledge of what the Chechen people have come through under the rebel sway. You know what Russian soldiers have been through, and what price the Chechen people have paid for peace and the right to live a normal life.
In that, you encountered well-organised and generously paid propaganda warfare. Meanwhile, life itself has shown who’s who and what’s what. International terrorists waging a war against their own people are legally and morally outlawed. We all now share a goal—not to repeat the blunders of the past, and make Chechen peace irreversible.
We all know how hard the coverage of Chechen developments is. Those developments are deep-rooted in history. They demand profound knowledge, responsible and balanced attitudes, and thorough personal evaluation of your own work. To tell the truth is the main secret of success. The truth is that the situation in Chechnya has changed spectacularly. Many things come back here after many years’ break. The republic has met its own demand for grain for the first time in many years. Chechen conscripts have for the first time appeared in the Russian Armed Forces. Chechnya has transferred fiscal revenues to the federal budget for the first time in many years. That is only a part of important recent developments. All that is the result of our joint efforts—your efforts, too.
Huge political and economic changes would be impossible in Russia without its free mass media. Their stability remains among the basic prerequisites of the development of our state and society. Millions of our compatriots see the situation in Russia through your eyes and depend on what you say for their judgements. An overwhelming majority of Russian citizens believe you, and rely on journalists’ competence and responsibility.
I once again congratulate you on your high state awards. Thank you for your brave and honest work. You never spare yourself and, thanks to your selflessness, you rescue many lives.
I wish you health and luck, and every success to you and to your near and dear.