President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear friends.
My warmest congratulations to you all on receiving these high state decorations and my sincere thanks for the outstanding results you have obtained in your work.
This ceremony is of great civil and public significance as it is an occasion to let the whole country know about people whose lives are examples of perseverance, generosity of spirit and devotion to one’s profession, people and country, an occasion that teaches us respect for knowledge and talent, respect for the desire to succeed, and nurtures in us this desire to succeed.
It is symbolic that next week, we will celebrate for the first time the national holiday of Day of National Unity. This holiday has its roots in the glorious and heroic events of 1612, when people of different faiths, nationalities and classes united to save their homeland and defend Russian statehood. This was an example of genuine national unity in the name of our country’s future.
It is important that you, like your forebears, strive not only for personal success but are motivated also by a desire to be of service to our homeland. This is a truly great human quality, a quality that is the mark of a true citizen and patriot, and a quality that has always distinguished our national character.
Selflessly serving the Motherland and its people was also an honour and an ideal for numerous generations of Russians. Such desire to serve the public good, such moral principles, always united our multiethnic people into a single Russian nation and formed the foundation that in times of hardship made us able to stand as one and remain unvanquished.
I am sure that all of you here today – scientists and cultural figures, politicians and workers – are all bound by a common desire to make Russia stronger and wealthier, to make our country flourish.
Our country’s highest decoration – the Gold Star Medal – is deservedly awarded to strong and courageous people for whom great risk and heroism has become practically a part of their everyday working lives.
Test pilots Colonel Andrei Laptev and Yury Mitikov are just such people. Even in impossible situations you have shown extraordinary self-possession and skill, making yourselves master of even the most complex technology.
The Order for Service to the Fatherland second degree is awarded to people whose creative talent, enthusiasm and erudition have done more than simply enrich Russian culture and science.
I am sure that future generations will judge our era, its moods and ideals, through the works of Kirill Lavrov, Oleg Tabakov, Ilya Glazunov, and Nikita Mikhalkov, who just recently celebrated his birthday.
And thanks to the research of Academician Nikolai Laverov, we will be able to make serious steps forward in resolving global ecological problems.
I would particularly like to note Genrikh Novozhilov, world-famous aircraft designer, creator of several of the Il family of aircraft and successor to the legendary Ilyushin school, who celebrated his eightieth birthday yesterday. My warmest congratulations on your birthday!
Each one of you here today merits the warmest words possible. And with all my heart I once again congratulate you on the decorations, honoured titles and awards that are deservedly yours.
I wish you health and happiness.
Thank you very much.
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Allow me to conclude by congratulating you most sincerely once more.
In the more than 1,000 years of its history Russia has known many outstanding people who have made a contribution not only to our country’s development but also to that of all humanity.
But it is also the duty of every generation to lay the foundation for the future, and today we are laying the foundation of what our country will be tomorrow. All of you here today are doing a magnificent job in this respect.
Thank you very much.