Vladimir Putin: Today both the Russians and Ukrainians have their own states. And, let me add, they are both multiethnic states. There are 4.5 million Ukrainians living in Russia, and, as far as I know, 11 million Russians live in Ukraine. We cherish everything connected with Ukraine. Above all, we cherish the Ukrainian culture which is much loved in Russia. I remember well the admiration felt by all of us who attended various events during the time of the Soviet Union, including the director of the Kirov Plant, who is present here today, when they sang Ukrainian songs together with their friends. We admired the way they sang and the sing-song sound of the Ukrainian language. You know that Ukrainian culture has been particularly popular in Russia throughout the ages. It has always had something special about it, a unique spark. It is not by chance that the Russian government has many people who come from Ukraine or have a close affinity with Ukraine. When Valentina Matviyenko was in Kiev representing the Government of the Russian Federation, she spoke both in Russian and Ukrainian. And I am told that she did it very well. I would very much like the Ukrainians who live in Russia to feel completely at home, to feel that they are not only in a friendly atmosphere, but in their own cultural environment, just like the Russians who live in Ukraine.
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