President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Let me begin by congratulating everyone on our national holiday, the Day of National Unity. This holiday is still new – it is the youngest of all our national holidays. It was established only recently, five years ago, to mark our respect for our heroic history and honour the memory of the destiny-making feat that our people accomplished.
Nearly four centuries have passed since that day when people of different social backgrounds, ethnic groups and religions rallied around Kuzma Minin’s and Dmitry Pozharsky’s call for unity. They organised a volunteer force and liberated Moscow from foreign invaders. Our people’s unity saved our country at that point in time, saved it from internal strife and external interference and danger, ended the tribulations of the Time of Troubles and ultimately prevented the country from falling apart, thus setting Russia on its historic destiny as a strong and influential state.
I have just returned from Suzdal, where I took part in opening a memorial chapel at the grave of Dmitry Pozharsky. This is a unique place and a unique memorial. It was built in 1885 and took almost twenty years to complete. In the 1930s, like many of our monuments, it was destroyed. Now we have rebuilt it. It took two years to rebuild. I think this is an excellent symbol on the Day of National Unity. Furthermore, it was restored not with state subsidies, but with money donated by the public. It was built on public donations in the nineteenth century, and now has been restored using public donations in the twenty-first century. It unquestionably reminds us of the feat of our outstanding citizen, Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, and of the courage shown by all the heroes who formed the volunteer force.
Back in that distant year 1612, the Russian people united around their love for their homeland, their desire for freedom, and, of course, their sense of responsibility for their country’s destiny. Over the centuries these values have helped our people overcome the severest trials, achieve success and emerge victorious.
In keeping with the traditions that have already formed over these last few years, present here today are representatives of Russian non-governmental organisations, ethnic-cultural and religious groups. You are all people whose influence and active stand as citizens are helping to strengthen our civil society, social stability and interethnic harmony.
I also welcome our foreign guests, true enthusiasts, who make efforts at the highest level to support interest in our history and culture, promote the study of Russian, and preserve the integrity and diversity of the unique phenomenon that we call the Russian world, which unites our compatriots abroad and all friends of Russia in every corner of our planet.
By tradition, on the Day of National Unity we honour and thank you and of course award state decorations.
Once again, I congratulate you sincerely on this holiday and ask that we now begin the state decorations award ceremony.
Permanent Secretary of the Academie Francaise Helene Carrere D’Encausse: I would like to thank you for this award from the bottom of my heart; it is a great honour for me. It is a particularly significant honour for me because, as you know, my ancestors come from this nation. Many of their names are written on the walls of this St George Hall, and I have devoted my entire professional life to becoming closer to Russia. I am a Frenchwoman, but a Frenchwoman with a Russian heart. I love this nation, and I can say that the only thing that’s important to me is to try to explain Russia to the French. I have educated a generation of students and many readers, and I am certain that as the French truly love Russia, as our countries have very close relations which are unique because they are not some standard relations between two nations; instead, they resemble sincere relations between family members, what’s therefore most important for me is to further improve our relations. Soon, the Year of France will be held in Russia, and the Year of Russia will be held in France. I will try to work as hard as I can for these projects, and I am grateful to you, Mr President, for this sign of appreciation.
Michael George Charles Franklin Windsor, Prince of Kent and Cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain: My family ties and my love of the Russian language have attracted me to your country. I first visited Russia in 1992. I have tried to help develop business ties, but I was particularly interested in culture. Currently, I am preparing construction of a cultural centre in Moscow. I also established a charitable foundation in Russia several years ago.
It is a great honour for me to receive this order directly from the hands of President Medvedev. I see it as a sign of recognition of the enormous work by everyone who is helping me in Russia. Russian blood flows through my veins, and I feel unity with Russia in my heart.
Former Ethiopian Ambassador To the Russian Federation Kassa Gebre Hiwot: Mr President,
Having an Ethiopian citizen receive the Order of Friendship is a clear expression of the feelings that the people of Ethiopia and Russia have toward one another. I am happy that I have lived and worked as an educator in Russia for over 30 years.
Thank you for this award.
Executive Secretary of Public Political Organisation Ukrainian Forum, Ukraine, Georgy Kryuchkov:
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for this award and for your high assessment of my humble contribution to maintaining and improving Slavic unity and brotherly friendship between our peoples.
I must say: the fact that I as one of the activists of this movement am receiving this award, serves as a powerful incentive not only for myself but for tens of millions of my countrymen who, in an atmosphere of nationalist chauvinism and aggressive Russophobia, defend the historical truth and the centuries old traditions of our brotherhood and who support maintaining, reinforcing, developing, and deepening the strategic partnership between our nations as a necessary precondition and a guaranty for ensuring the sovereignty and prosperity of both our nations, including my home country of Ukraine.
Mr President, the awarding of the order has personal significance for me. Indeed, you signed the Executive Order awarding me with this decoration on October 20, which was my 80th birthday. I have lived a long life full of events, and I am not ashamed of all those years. I would like to assure you that as long as I have the strength, I will strive to reinforce Slavic unity and our brotherly friendship.
I would like to echo what the others have said and express to all the people of Russia my wishes of happiness, kindness, and prosperity, of peace and good will on our land.
Thank you very much.
President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Germany, Hermann Parzinger: It is certainly an extraordinary honour and a great pleasure for me to receive this order. When I was flying here from Berlin, I was thinking about the ways of translating the Russian word “friendship”. You know, there are some words that are very difficult to translate. Of course, it translates into German as “Freundschaft,” but the Russian word “friendship” is greater, warmer, and more open.
Together with my colleagues I have been working in your nation for fifteen years – I am an archaeologist, and we go on expeditions. I have learned that friendship is the basis for our joint scientific success, a necessary element of modern culture and of the very active contacts between people, youth, and students. They now understand each other, both in terms of language and in terms of frame of mind. I think that this is fundamental for our common future.
Thank you very much.
Trustee and Director of Maxim Gorky School, Peru, Maya Romenets de Rios: Mr President,
I cannot express what I am feeling right now, being here in Moscow, in the Kremlin, in this wonderful hall. It is a great honour for me to receive this award. I will try to devote the remainder of my life to the wonderful cause of strengthening the friendship between two nations: the nation where I live today, and my wonderful motherland, Russia.
I see this award as more than an assessment of my personal efforts. I want to share this joy with the friends and countrymen who help me in my work.
Thank you very much.
Member of the New York Academy of Sciences Mikhail Shemyakin: Thank you very much for this award.
I would like to say that in the 40 years that I have been living outside of Russia, I have always served it through my art. I think that nothing brings together peoples and nations quite like art, culture, and creativity.
I believe that thanks to you, Mr President, culture will find its rightful place in Russia. Thank you.
RUSSIAN LANGUAGE TEACHER AT UMARU MUSA YAR’ADUA UNIVERSITY, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ISA NAYA BAKORI: Mr President,
On a day as tremendous as this one in the life of any individual, I must express my sincere feelings of respect for the warmth with which you have met me. I am very grateful to you. I would like to thank you on the part of my people, and share a request from my people to re-establish radio broadcasts from Moscow in my native language. We had such broadcasts before, but now, we no longer hear them.
If you please, we would like to listen to the radio from Moscow.
HEAD OF THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT AT KABUL STATE UNIVERSITY, AFGHANISTAN, MIR SAHIB JAN NAWAB-HAN KUCHAI: Mr President,
I would like to express my deep gratitude for your constant attention and for such a high assessment. This high assessment gives me additional strength to take our noble work to the new heights. I would like to assure you that I will continue working with dedication to promote Russian culture and language in our nation. I would very much like to share this great joy with the Russian friends whose help was essential to our success.
Thank you very much.
Dmitry Medvedev: I think that the words we have just heard from the recipients of the decorations are not just words spoken from the heart, the kind of words one expects to hear at a ceremony such as this, but are words that put us all on exactly the same wavelength. All representatives of the Russian world, everyone who loves our country, everyone who considers themselves our compatriots, everyone who works on developing and spreading the Russian language – all form the foundation of this wonderful phenomenon that we call the Russian world. This is a phenomenon that has no borders and is not subjected to political circumstances of the moment, or, essentially, to political censorship.
I am sure that the wonderful ties that we share, our desire to strengthen our friendship and our wish to speak to each other in Russian will continue to play an important part in Russia’s development as a strong and multiethnic country. Our country owes a lot to you, and I want you to hear these words once again on our national holiday.
You are helping Russia by taking part in building an accurate and sincere image of our country abroad. You are all Russia’s goodwill ambassadors. Once more, I congratulate you on this national holiday. I wish you success and good health and hope that we will stay together.