President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, dear friends!
Spring has arrived, or at least today certainly feels like a real spring day.
It will soon be 8 March, so let me on behalf of all the men present congratulate all the women taking part in today's ceremony, on this spring holiday and on receiving the state awards.
Today we will be honouring those women who have achieved great success in the areas of culture, health, education and science, and those who have brought fame to our country by virtue of their sporting achievements, as well as those women whom we love and esteem.
One of them, Irina Alexandrovna Viner, is awarded today the Order for Services to the Fatherland III Class. Irina Alexandrovna is a professional in a class by herself, since she in effect created her own national school of rhythmic gymnastics and made that school the best in the world. Her hard work and teaching skills represent in essence the best way to promote a healthy lifestyle and sport in our country.
And among those present today are of course men who have achieved the same distinction as such outstanding women. In singling out only a few people, I will of course hardly do justice to all those gathered in this room.
The highest state award, the Hero of the Russian Federation, is awarded to Major Alexey Ukhvatov. He and his men selflessly came to the aid of their comrades who were part of the peacekeeping contingent in South Ossetia and thus saved hundreds of lives.
Of course today we also honour artists whose works are admired by millions of people in our country and beyond.
The Order for Services to the Fatherland I Class is awarded to the world-renowned conductor and enormous musical talent, Yuri Khatuevich Temirkanov.
I would like to convey my kindest regards to Oleg Yankosky and Vasily Lanovoy. The characters they have portrayed have become the idols of more than one generation of people in our country, and their professionalism has become a benchmark for our theatre and cinema.
It would take a long time to enumerate the achievements of everyone in the room, so I think it is better that we move directly to the award ceremony.
Once again I heartily congratulate you and wish you prosperity and new successes.
Today is truly a great day, and I think that the mood that prevails here in this room will stay with you – at least I hope it will — and I hope that you will convey it to your friends and colleagues.
You know, a number of those who received awards today used a word that most unfortunately we hear all too often these days, the word “crisis.” What can I say? We really do need to get through this difficult period. Our country has faced crises on many occasions. We have to admit that last year events occurred that will remain forever in the memory of our people, and examples of tremendous courage were shown by our compatriots, some of whom, by the way, are present in this room. The crisis will not disappear unless we work, work as we are capable of working, each in our own way. I am confident that our country has survived more difficult, painful, and dramatic events. We can overcome this problem.
And the words that we have heard today prove to me that we have all the qualities required and – most importantly – the spirit that has always been the mark of our people.
I heartily congratulate you on your state awards. Once again I sincerely congratulate the women on the occasion of 8 March, on our favourite spring day. And I hope that we will have many opportunities to meet each other and exchange words of gratitude.