President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear friends,
Tomorrow, April 26, marks 20 years since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This accident was one of the greatest technological disasters of the last century. Its severe consequences are known not just in our country but throughout the entire world, and are still making their harsh repercussions felt in nature and in people.
Not only did you see the full scale of this disaster, and not only did you provide help and support to people struck by real tragedy, but you were also among those who courageously fought this disaster. You fought in exceptionally difficult conditions and at immense risk for your own lives. Many lost their lives. And today we recognise that the personal risk you faced, the consequences for those taking part in the cleanup operation were not fully known.
Moreover, with no experience of dealing with disasters of this kind, you and your colleagues had to come up with action strategies literally on the go and take urgent decisions sometimes with only your knowledge and professionalism to guide you.
I just watched documentary footage about this tragedy. I watched how Academician Legasov arrived to see what exactly was happening there. I watched how people worked directly on the site, within the 30-kilometre zone. And of course those who were working there did not think of themselves but simply understood that the accident had to be cleaned up, cleaned up at any cost.
Your selflessness, your ability to stay calm and collected in an extreme situation and your immense sense of responsibility saved a great number of human lives.
Today I would like to award you these state decorations. They are awarded to you as recognition of your services and as a sign of great respect and gratitude.