President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, dear friends,
It is a sincere pleasure to welcome you and congratulate you on being decorated as the best parents in our country. You have founded happy and friendly large families, each unique in its way. I want to thank you all. You have spent a long time now raising your own and adopted children, and giving them attention and a mother’s and father’s love and care.
Today’s ceremony coincides with International Children’s Day. The main aim of this date is clear – to remind us of the obvious fact that children need care and attention, and protection of their lawful rights and interests. Our country’s authorities and our society in general need to create all the conditions for our children’s happy and healthy development.
In accordance with our laws and Constitution, children are guaranteed the state’s protection. Over these last years, we have taken certain steps to protect children, support motherhood and ensure our children’s health and safety. These steps are reflected in laws that have been passed. But most important of all, I hope that they have made an imprint in public awareness.
To speak frankly, there are more than enough cases of indifferent and sometimes downright cruel treatment of children in our country. It is the state’s duty to protect children in such circumstances. We need to do everything possible for their real protection, and we need to take effective measures against those who break the laws. A whole series of legal provisions were drafted and passed in this area, and we will continue to work firmly and consistently in this direction.
I will say a few words about these legal provisions, because I think this is important on this day, International Children’s Day. We have passed amendments to the federal law on the basic guarantees of children’s rights. These amendments were passed this year. The amendments in question protect children from information that could cause harm to their health and to their spiritual and moral development. A number of special rules and provisions were set. Rules were also set regarding minors being outside their homes at night. Under the new rules, minors are not allowed to be out at night unaccompanied by adults, by their parents. Ordinary people asked me to include such a provision in the amendments, and we agreed to this request. Of course it is important to be reasonable about the way this provision is enforced. But the fact of the matter is that it is now on the statutes, and regions that have not yet put it on the statutes at regional level will have to do so now.
We are implementing social support measures for families. These measures have helped to bring about a recent increase in the birth rate. Of course, there is still plenty of room for growth, but the increase is decent nonetheless. The birth rate rose the year before last, and again last year, and there were almost 4 percent more births over the first quarter of this year than during the same period last year.
I particularly want to stress that, despite the current financial difficulties the authorities will unfailingly carry out indexation and payment of benefits and fulfil all of their other social support commitments.
Furthermore, not so long ago, despite the current hardships, we decided to move to the start of this year the entry into force of the provisions stipulating that the maternity capital can be put towards mortgage loan programmes and resolving housing needs, and that it can be received in the form of a one-off payment.
But we realise that protection of children cannot be reduced to material support measures alone. The state cannot resolve all problems affecting families — such is the nature of life. There are also moral problems to take into account. No material measures, no financial support can ever be a substitute for parental love and care. We need to strive towards ensuring normal and humane treatment of children and making complete and large families the development reference for the whole of our society, for the whole country. In this, we need to look above all to families such as yours, because you provide us with outstanding examples to follow.
Dear friends, you are preparing your children for full participation in adult life, teaching them to work and create, to respect their country and their elders, and laying the foundations for their future achievements. I am sure that through your efforts they will grow up to become independent, active and strong citizens of our great country. It is this that constitutes your parental glory.
Before presenting you with your decorations, I want to wish you good health and happiness. I wish you success in all of your undertakings, and perhaps more children too, should you make such a decision.
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I want to congratulate you all once more. I hope that this first day of summer will be a memorable one for you. For the parents, I am sure that you will remember it as the occasion when you received state decorations, and for the children, for this chance to come here to the Kremlin. This is, after all, a place of great interest and significance for our country, the centre of Russia, the place where our history began.
I want to express my immense gratitude for what you are doing. All of you, the mothers above all, of course, and the fathers too, are performing humanity’s greatest mission – raising children – and you are doing so with great honour. You are doing so in a fashion worthy of being embodied in this state decoration.
Incidentally, this is the only state decoration that comes in two different versions. All of the other decorations have only a single version. We made changes to the rules on this decoration, and you are now the first people to receive, here in the Kremlin, this order in its two versions – one for women and one for men.
I hope that I will have the chance to sign documents awarding this decoration more often, because this will mean that our country has a future, that we have more big happy families. If we have such families, it means our country has a full, bright and happy future ahead.
Thank you very much for all that you are doing.