Naina Yeltsina received the decoration for her significant contribution to socially significant humanitarian programmes and her active participation in charity work.
The reception marking Naina Yeltsina’s 85th birthday took place in the Grand Kremlin Palace’s St Alexander Hall.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Yeltsina, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
We are gathered here today for a very pleasant occasion, to congratulate Naina Yeltsina on her birthday.
Ms Yeltsina, we all have great respect and admiration for you both as the wife of the first president of Russia and, of course, as an unfailingly kind and very considerate person, an example of modesty, heartfelt generosity and dignity.
These qualities are highly valued wherever you go. But they are particularly important at difficult times, during radical changes when people are in need of understanding and sympathy.
You were with Boris Yeltsin for over 50 years. Together, you went through all the ordeals and hardships, trials and victories, and at every turn of your common destiny you made sure that at home, your family was strong and safe.
Yes, you tried to avoid – or, to be more precise – avoided excessive public attention. But we know and remember that there were many difficult moments when Boris Yeltsin needed your open support. At those times, you had the ability to speak out in a straightforward and truthful manner and, most importantly, with unflinching respect for people. Your words were full of sincere empathy for the fates of people and resonated in many hearts.
For me it is a great honour to present the Order of St Catherine the Great Martyr to you. This is a special state decoration for high moral values and compassion, for significant contribution to charity, peacemaking and humanitarian efforts. It goes without saying that your life truly merits the status of this order.
Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude. Thank you very much.
Naina Yeltsina: Mr President, you have arranged such a wonderful event for me. It was such a surprise. I could not even imagine that I would receive an order. It is difficult to describe how I feel right now. I am both thrilled and excited. I am also thinking that the high status of this decoration requires a huge amount of work.
I have done my best to contribute to a good cause over the years. Now, with the Boris Yeltsin Centre, we continue to try and make people’s lives better. I did not even expect that I could now belong to this young team of very smart people who founded the centre. They are doing their best to make the Boris Yeltsin Centre a place that attracts people of all ages, from all walks of life, regardless of their views.
Of course, I can only promise that I will keep working hard for as long as I can.
Thank you very much.