President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kobzon, friends,
I think everyone saw that I already wished Mr Kobzon a happy birthday in an intimate setting, with journalists present. I could not deny myself the pleasure of doing so again – in a more public setting. I really could not deny myself this pleasure.
I will not take up your time by talking about the merits of our guest of honour, and I will not list everything related to his work. I will only say a few words.
I want to sincerely thank you myself and on behalf of ordinary people for your creativity. I think I have the right to do so, because when I really enjoyed what you do on stage, I was an ordinary person.
I know that hundreds of thousands, millions of people – people like me – had real pleasure and satisfaction from what you do as an artist and a singer, from the atmosphere of your work. I want to applaud and sincerely thank you once again. I hope that your health, strong spirit and character will let you continue to bring joy to millions of citizens of our country for many years to come.
Happy birthday, and I wish you all the best.
Have a good evening.