President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, dear friends.
Allow me to begin this state decorations presentation ceremony by first of all congratulating everyone on the upcoming national holiday – National Unity Day – and wish you all success, good health, fulfilment of your plans, and creative achievements. You are all experienced and serious people who know your respective professions well.
I want to draw your attention to the holiday that is just around the corner. It is a new holiday in our country, a date celebrating the moment in perhaps one of the most dramatic periods in our country’s history when our people liberated themselves and defended their right to independent development. I think that such examples remain relevant at any time in history, including in today’s era, which, though perhaps less dramatic, nonetheless springs various surprises on us.
Professional achievement in creativity has always been highly valued in Russia. It is something we talk about a lot. This is perhaps not always reflected at the material level, in any case, not always have we rewarded such professional achievement to the extent we should have. This is further reason to reflect on the value of creative labour, the value of labour in general. But all of you, as the finest examples of your professions, know very well the value of creation and know how to work, each in your respective fields.
You are all people whose names are renowned, and for many of you this is not your first time taking part in a state decorations presentation ceremony. There is nothing wrong with this. On the contrary, it is very pleasing to see. I think that the award of state decorations always offers an extra opportunity to draw the authorities’ attention to the achievements of a huge number of people, some of whom are present here today.
I would like to say a few words about the awards’ recipients. Of course, following tradition, I cannot read out the whole list, my colleagues will do this for me, but I would like nonetheless for obvious reasons to name a few of those being decorated today.
I would like to mention the particular circumstances that led to Leonid Saplitsky being awarded the title of Hero of Russia. As you know, this decoration is usually awarded to military personnel or people who have performed some kind of military feat. But in this particular case life is full of surprises and people from thoroughly peaceful professions can become heroes too. Although Mr Saplitsky is not a military man, his courageous action made it possible to save a large agricultural enterprise from fire. I think that this kind of action most certainly merits our country’s highest decoration.
The Order for Services to the Fatherland, I degree, is awarded today to outstanding scientist and cardiologist Yevgeny Chazov, whose name I am sure you all know well. He is the father of Russia’s, and before that the Soviet Union’s, unified cardiology service encompassing specialised treatment centres and research institutes. Mr Chazov in effect is one of our medical system’s creators and has made a great contribution to its development.
Today’s recipients include legendary Russian designer Sergei Kovalyov, who has been directly involved in building modern strategic nuclear submarines.
The Order for Services to the Fatherland, II degree, is awarded to Vladimir Spivakov, one of our country’s outstanding musicians, whose orchestra is deservedly considered one of the world’s best.
I also offer my warmest congratulations to Alexander Shirvindt, who is listening very attentively to my words. What more can I say? Mr Shirvindt will share his own thoughts, I am sure, on this ceremony and on us, but whatever the case, his work is always an event in the theatre and film world.
Also here today is Irina Bogachyova, one of our opera’s brightest stars. Her vocal talent is a benchmark for lovers of contemporary performance.
Of course, we have here today a whole gathering of other leaders in their fields, religious leaders, representatives of public organisations, and our respected veterans, who are also represented here and will receive state decorations awarded by today’s modern Russia.
Once again, I congratulate all of you and propose that we now begin presenting the decorations.
This has turned out to be a varied ceremony. We have heard some fine words, and I think that this was probably the first time that anyone sang here in this hall. I hoped someone might dance too, but this will be no doubt for a future occasion, for the next time decorations are presented.
On behalf of “our beloved government and cherished party Central Committee” [response to Alexander Shirvindt’s speech], for which I have a fondness, I want to say that I am really very pleased to see everyone in such a good mood today.
Each of us probably has one’s own private feelings about manifestations of state attention or state decorations, and probably a sense of self-irony too, but no matter what your private feelings, I am sure you would agree that without this attention, our achievements, and opportunities, and sometimes our problems too, would be less visible.
Therefore state decorations are a way to put the spotlight on a large number of wonderful people and a large number of achievements in all different walks of life, and a way to highlight our opportunities, including lost opportunities, because often colleagues come up to me during these ceremonies, tell me about this or that problem and propose meeting to discuss their various sectors’ development. This is normal. We do not often have the chance to meet, and so it is completely natural to seize this kind of opportunity.
At the same time, these awards symbolise that, despite the day-to-day problems we face, we continue to advance and develop. We already live in a different country. Of course, it is through comparison that we can really see the change. All of us, all those who are older, in any case, can recall the years of their youth and make this comparison.
It seems to me that today we have a completely new vision of how to resolve a huge number of different problems. We heard the words of our colleagues who received state decorations today and spoke about the situation in healthcare, agriculture and science. Whatever the situation, including what Mr Chazov spoke about, today’s developments cannot but encourage us. We have achieved decent results in terms of life expectancy, even if we are still not living yet as long as our Japanese friends.
By the way, I want to thank our Japanese colleague [Morihiro Iwata, a performer in the Bolshoi Theatre’s ballet] for his warm words and his excellent command of the Russian language, and I want to make a small clarification. The decoration he received is not the Order of Peoples’ Friendship, it is not a new decoration, it is the Order of Friendship.
I think these few but very memorable achievements, produced through our joint work too, are particularly important, especially at a time like now, when everyone’s mood is dampened for whatever reason: autumn, the crisis, or other problems. I therefore hope that today’s big award ceremony on the eve of our national holiday will serve as real evidence that our country is growing and that we have a bright future, to which each of those present today is making an important contribution.
Once more, I offer you my warmest congratulations and wish you and your families good health, and success in your work!