President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear friends! Ladies and gentlemen!
I congratulate you on National Unity Day.
This date only appeared in our calendars last year. And before then there were no official holidays in Russia commemorating pre-Soviet history.
Almost four centuries ago, during the hardest times of troubles and civil strife, the multinational people of our country united in order to preserve Russia’s independence and statehood.
Russia’s great citizens Kuzma Minin and Dmitrii Pozharskii lead a national home guard that put an end to the troubles and returned law and order to our land.
And therefore National Unity Day is a holiday for all members of civil society in today’s Russia. It is a day when we pay tribute to a centuries-old tradition of patriotism, harmony and unity of our people. And wherever the sons and daughters of Russia live, then this historical past will unite us all.
Today Russia is open to all people who identify with its destiny. And I am sincerely glad to see compatriots from the widest variety of countries here at the reception. I want to emphasise that we deeply appreciate your aspirations to consolidate the Russian people around our historical Motherland, we value your desire to be of use to Russia, and to strengthen its authority. All of this was confirmed in the World Congress of Russians Abroad that was held recently in St Petersburg.
A number of Russian language and literature teachers, academics, art critics, and both Russian and foreign publishers of Russian-language publications are present here in the Kremlin today.
I would like to warmly thank you for the invaluable contribution you have made towards distributing Russian culture, a culture which has become an integral part of humanity’s spiritual heritage.
Your hearts are filled with love for the Russian language, something which is not only our common heritage, it is also a strong base for friendship and cooperation. This especially concerns the compatriots living in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
In addition to this, Russian language has an obvious significance for the development of world civilization, since many books on topics such as history, culture and scientific discoveries have been written in Russian. And not only by Russians but also other peoples as well, and not only the peoples of the Russian Federation but almost all the nations of the world.
I am especially pleased to tell this auditorium that in 2007 we will hold the Year of Russian Language – in Russia and everywhere in the world where people know, love and value Russian language. I am convinced that the events connected with this year will occasion a great deal of interest and will strengthen international ties in the cultural and educational spheres.
We are all children of our country and its history. And this historic, genetic memory of our people calls on us to unite, gives us a general responsibility for the destiny of our native land, calls on us to establish forces together and to unite our forces in the name of the present and future Russia.
Thank you for your attention.
(The President presented the state awards of the Russian Federation).
Dear friends, allow me to congratulate once again all those present on this occasion, to express special words of gratitude to the award winners for the invaluable contribution they make towards developing Russian language and culture. To friendship, to cooperation, to Russia!
Thank you very much.