President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends!
I would like to once again sincerely thank all of you for fulfilling your professional duties.
You worked in very difficult circumstances, by which I mean both the overall risk to your lives that is common to your profession, as well as the bulk information background, the tone that was set in a certain way, at least in a number of foreign countries. You created a high-quality product that was watched by everyone who wanted to get an unbiased point of view of the events that took place during that time in the Caucasus, and you did this in the fairest way possible.
I am certain that ultimately, what you showed was the truth, and I do not say that as the President of the Russian Federation, but as a person who dealt with those issues at that time. And sooner or later, that truth will get through to those who, perhaps, did not have that truth.
You filmed, narrated, and gave updates. And you did this, I repeat once again, completely openly and fairly. There was no propaganda, despite the fact that it would be natural during a war situation.
And that is precisely why I feel that we were, in part, able to achieve the results that were achieved, because, despite a fairly rapid conclusion to the armed hostilities and the prevention of a large number of casualties, the problems that roused the entire Caucasus nonetheless remain.
I would like to also talk about our boys who fought there and were there just alongside with you. Some of them protected you, literally saved you, including Hero of the Russian Federation Major Denis Vetchinov. His wife Ekaterina is here today. I would like to once again thank you for what your husband did, on behalf of everyone present here.
And finally, the last thing I would like to say. I would very much like it if we did not need to come together on such occasions. But life is life, and despite the fact that we always try to avoid problems, life still occasionally gives us all kinds of surprises, and creates situations in which Russia cannot act in any other way. And I count on you to continue to fulfil your official duties with just as much professionalism in the future, just as you have up to now.
Thank you so much for your work. I wish you professional success and happiness in your personal lives.
We were all watching carefully what was happening then. And although as the Commander in Chief I was receiving direct information from military commanders, what you were doing was, of course, a particular kind of job.
And, I will tell you honestly, it was particularly hurtful when, flipping through the channels (I was watching information that was transmitted through some foreign media), to speak frankly, I was just shocked by how it was completely biased and stereotyped.
We all live in the real world and understand how the political system works, how the media work, we can all see the merits and the shortcomings, say, in the current situation and in the ways things are going on in our country and other countries. Overall, there is no ideal model, there is no ideal situation, and you know this perfectly well, probably even better than I. But when things turned out such that all our coverage and our news – which could be anything, it could be critical, including in relation to what was happening, and even in relation to the actions of the Russian authorities – nevertheless met one criterion, that of being honest; and the media in other countries were simply presenting a position that was convenient for them, that was hurtful.
But I would like to say once again that as a result of what you did, ultimately, even if it did not occur right away, awareness was raised about what happened, of what was done by the Russian military, of the efforts that were made by other Russian branches in humanitarian service; that awareness eventually came about in many countries.
And based on the outcomes of the war in the Caucasus, we have even prepared informational materials that were given to most European governments and several other countries, so that they could at least see what it all really looked like. That is a great thing.
I would like to congratulate you once again. Thank you. I hope that in the future, we may have more pleasant and cheerful reasons to bestow awards, although in any case, national awards are always gratifying, they are an acknowledgement by the government.
Thank you very much. Thanks to all those who, during that period, defended our country and helped the people we care about.