President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Mr Kalashnikov, colleagues,
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to congratulate you. Of course these days there has been a great deal of discussion: we've all been recalling what you've done, your glorious life. There have been a lot of different epithets used to describe the magnificent history of your work. This really is how the media are discussing your career, how you are being described on television. In effect what you have created has made Russia's weapons one of our best national brands.
The word Kalashnikov is truly one of the most famous Russian words, one of the best known things in our current life. And in all likelihood this is not a coincidence, because this kind of brilliant creative achievement is always helping our country, enabling our nation to move forward. And what you have done has long been an excellent example of how people can use their creative effort to create an impressive new sort of weapon, one that has been used for decades in our country, both the Soviet Union and Russia, and in large numbers by other countries as well. This shows just how extraordinary out nation’s creative potential is, shows what we can do. Your brilliant invention and all the work you have done to create other excellent weapons is an object lesson in how we should go on working in the future.
We are currently engaged in modernising our economy, in trying to change our lives. We really do not have enough inventions of the sort that you created, and this is true in every area of our lives. Obviously when we say we need to use you as our example, we are talking about more than just weapons, although this means our defence, our security, a very important area of our defence exports, and our military and technical policy, — we are talking about other areas as well. In my opinion, simply the fact that today we are celebrating this glorious anniversary, your 90th birthday, is for all of us an example of how a man who in his very early years took on both public and military service, has spent all his life creating weapons to defend his country, creating splendid examples of military hardware, and helping young inventors, and is still as we say serving in the ranks. Today you are celebrating your birthday with your friends and admirers, and you have a lot of them all around the world.
As a matter of fact, there are very few examples in the history of our country of the kind of achievement that you are responsible for. I mean not only the Kalashnikov rifle, but a national brand, something that gives every Russian citizen, every inhabitant of our country, a sense of pride, a sense of belonging to history and a desire to work for the future.
I would hope that a significant number of young inventors, Russian arms makers, and those who are expending their creative energies in other industries will take with you an example and will try to serve their country as selflessly as you have.
Once when we were talking, you said something that I found very memorable, to the effect that if this sort of weapon had been created abroad, perhaps your destiny would have been very different and the country would have paid you for this work in a very different way. We had a different sort of economy and different criteria for judging success in life, but you were not complaining that all your life you had served our beloved country. Any assessment of your work means recognising our nation's love for you as an Inventor with a capital “I”, an honoured citizen of our country, a patriot of our Fatherland.
Let me once again cordially congratulate you on your birthday. We very much hope that you will go on working, go on exerting yourself. I wish you long life and continued strength. I hope that the upcoming holidays, the celebration of the Kalashnikov anniversary, will really be part of Russia's national pride. I think that it is only right that on this day your Fatherland once again takes special note of your contributions. I have signed a special executive order to this effect and will now ask that it be read out.
Reading of The Order: By order of the President of Russia Mikhail Kalashnikov is hereby awarded the title Hero of Russia for outstanding service in strengthening the country's defence.
Mikhail Kalashnikov: Mr President,
You have awarded me the nation's highest honour, Russia's highest award. I have served, am serving and will continue to serve my beloved Fatherland to the end of my days. I think that in Russia we can still create new designs that will gain the world's respect and stand guard for peace and labour.
I created a weapon to defend the borders of the Fatherland. It is not my fault that it has been used where it should not have been used. It is politicians who are to blame, not the arms designer. What I have created was designed to protect our borders and that is the goal it should serve.
Thank you for all the glowing praise you have bestowed on my work. In addition to making weapons, I have worked at educating our younger generation to love their Fatherland, to respect the older generation and to respect our past. Not everything we did in the past was bad. We should rid ourselves of the bad and let the good multiply.
I have written six books about this. The most recent one has just come off the press and still smells of printer's ink. I would like to present this book to you, Mr President. If you'll allow me, here it is. It's called “All the Things Needed are Simple.”
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you.
Let me once again congratulate you most cordially. Today there are many people here: your work colleagues, regional leaders, those who are engaged in the manufacture of arms, the Chief of General Staff, and a large number of journalists. We heartily congratulate you because you really are a hero of our country.