President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Atamans!
You represent 12 of the largest Cossack communities of our country. Of course, you are representing the interests of tens, or rather hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens: Cossacks who share cultural and historical traditions and our spiritual values.
Cossacks have always played an important role in the development of our statehood: they served the state faithfully and loyally, discovered Siberia, the Far East, established new towns and developed the economy of our great country.
Nowadays traditional Cossack life is witnessing a revival. The number of Cossack associations is growing. And the creation of legal framework for Cossack affairs probably plays a role in this.
For 15 years now, the Provisions on a State Register of Cossack Communities have been applied. In 2005 we adopted the Federal Law “On the Civil Service of Russian Cossacks.” Last year we adopted a public policy concept concerning Russian Cossacks. And about two months ago, in accordance with my decree, we established the Presidential Council on Cossack Affairs. It will hold its first meeting today.
I think that it goes without saying that the government has an interest in allowing Cossacks in our country to realise their potential and in addressing the common problems that the state and Cossacks have traditionally dealt with together. Of course we have an interest in strengthening our country as a whole, in educating young people, and in strengthening military and patriotic traditions.
All of this is important in any context, but perhaps it is of particular importance at a time when the country has been subjected to various tests. And, unfortunately, such tests continue. Last year there was the conflict in the Caucasus. Incidentally, the Cossacks were among the first who extended a helping hand to our friends from South Ossetia; I am referring to the delivery of humanitarian assistance and their general readiness to help.
And today we are not in the most favourable situation: of course the economic crisis affects the attitudes of people in general and those of young people in particular. In this sense, work with young people remains one of the priorities of your activities. We count on you in this regard.
I wish you and all Russian Cossacks success in your service for the benefit of Russia.
And I have one more good piece of news. I signed a decree conferring the rank of Cossack General to the Ataman of the Kuban Association of Cossack Troops Nikolai Doluda. Congratulations!
Ataman of the Kuban Association of Cossack Troops Nikolai Doluda: Thank you for your trust. I serve Russia, Kuban and the Cossacks!