President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends,
I congratulate you on this state holiday – the Day of Russia. I wish all of you new successes, and I wish the same to us all, to our whole country.
This holiday we are celebrating is connected to events that were a turning point in our country’s recent history. It is connected to fundamental political and economic transformations, radical changes to our society’s spiritual life, and changes in our value system.
Back then, at the start of the 1990s, Russia’s people made their own choice. They chose an open and free country. But as we know, the road to democracy turned out to be difficult and full of contradictions. Today, we look back on the events of those years as history, but back then, when everything was still at the beginning, it was hard to foresee all that would happen.
As we gradually gathered experience we also came to realize that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand, and that building a new economy and consolidating democracy requires constant daily effort and a lot of hard work.
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the first parliamentary elections in our country when people had a real alternative to vote for. Those elections were a watershed in our people’s minds and laid the foundations for establishing new democratic procedures and modern development institutions. The deputies elected back then, in those elections went on to form a new generation of state and public figures in our country.
I think that today it is very important not just to remember but also to analyse thoroughly the events of those turning point years, value our achievements and the experience in state-building that we have built up, hopefully not repeat past mistakes, and never forget that Russia has a great history reaching far back through the centuries.
This alone is reason to feel pride in our country. But even more important is to build on our forebears’ achievements, be open to progress and new advances, and use them to ensure our country’s development in the decades ahead.
Today, we have to address a huge number of problems all at once, and despite the current difficulties, we have to continue our country’s wide-scale technological modernisation and make quality change to various areas of life. In order to achieve our goals, we need to do all we can to support those who produce the achievements of true leaders.
We have such people with us here today, purposeful, talented and energetic. They have just received the [Russian] National Awards. Their lives and work are an example of the highest civic spirit and service to our motherland, and form an invaluable capital for our whole country.
I congratulate you all once again on this holiday and I propose a toast: To the Russian people! To peace and harmony in our common home!
Happy Russia’s Day!