Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon comrades, friends and colleagues.
When I say “colleagues” I mean that all of us feel associated with the Armed Forces, especially on Defender of the Fatherland Day. But you have more reason to think so than anyone else.
I wholeheartedly congratulate you on Defender of the Fatherland Day, which is always especially festive. It is a holiday for all officers and generals, NCOs, seamen and privates who would not hesitate to risk life and limb to defend the interests of the Fatherland.
This holiday is special this year, and the Russian government and public organisations expect you to help them organise the festivities in the best way possible. You know that veterans will be invited to Moscow to attend these festivities, including those to be held on Red Square. We also have a social project: absolutely all war veterans will be granted an additional payment amounting to three minimum pensions. We will also decide on a one-off payment for the widows of men and officers who perished in World War II. We are also considering, and will soon take a decision on providing [financial] assistance to workers on the home front.
This is only one measure of social assistance, a measure that will allow us to make these festivities more enjoyable to veterans, because the state must do something to improve their material situation, and all of them need our support.
Present in this audience are veterans of other major conflicts and of the Afghan war. Boris Gromov [governor of the Moscow Region] and Ruslan Aushev [president of Ingushetia] now head regional governments, and I am happy that these regions are led by men who know the meaning of war, military valour, honour and responsibility to the Fatherland and the people.
I hope that all regional heads will help us in our preparations to celebrate the 55th anniversary of our victory in the Great Patriotic War.