This year, Volunteer Day is celebrated online due to the restrictions and demand for volunteers. The national contest of volunteers has been held since 2010.
During the meeting, the President also took part in the charity event The Wishing Christmas Tree. The head of state promised to fulfil two wishes written on the cards decorating the tree.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends. Greetings.
Today our entire enormous country, together with the whole world, is celebrating International Volunteer Day. We have been marking this holiday since 2017. My heartfelt holiday greetings to millions, yes, I said it right, millions of Russians who help others and are an example of colossal moral power for all of society.
I am well aware that many of you are where you are needed the most at the moment. Even though I see a lot of participants on the screen, most volunteers are busy today, and in order not to distract you from important work that society needs, practically all holiday events are held online, as the current situation demands and as you understand, whereas the Volunteer of Russia Award is presented not at special meetings but in hospitals, call centres, and volunteer headquarters in cities and towns.
Friends, the fight against the pandemic has united and brought together many people, millions of caring individuals across the nation. The #WeAreTogether campaign was launched in spring of this year.
You continue working in medical facilities. I see that many of you drive doctors, paramedics and nurses in your own cars free of charge. You deliver food and medicines to the elderly and people with low mobility, take disabled people and orphaned children from social facilities into your homes, which, to be honest, came as a surprise to me when I learned about it. I am speechless and I do not know which words can express the gratitude to those who are doing such things.
I will note specially that Russian businesses are closely involved in the #WeAreTogether campaign. Entrepreneurs have shown responsibility to society through numerous truly noble acts. They include donations for additional support to healthcare facilities, purchasing PPE for volunteers and just for the people who need it, providing free meals for medical workers and ambulance crews.
We oftentimes blame businesses – and there is always someone to blame in any environment, including a business environment – yet our businesses still display social maturity, I can say, especially under these harsh conditions we are witnessing.
I want to repeat, volunteers have become a major force in combating the epidemic. Meanwhile, despite such a difficult year, we also kept working on other socially relevant tracks, which is indeed very important. We united the entire country during the celebrations of Russia Day and especially Victory Day, of course.
Friends, it is primarily thanks to your efforts that the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory was given the spirit of warmth and kind-heartedness. Volunteers helped organise even the online Immortal Regiment march, which seemed a problem to arrange, yet you helped to make it happen. And your small improvised but such heart-warming concerts outside veterans’ homes were particularly stirring and touching. It was a true holiday with tears of sincere gratitude in the eyes of the elderly people who defended our Motherland during the war. We must strive for our everyday actions to be deserving of their great feat.
And this is exactly what you do: you take part in fighting wildfires and in relief efforts following emergency situations, you look for missing people, help museums to digitise their collections and arrange online exhibitions, thus preserving our history, tradition and culture.
Let me stress, there are so many efforts of this kind that it is hard to name all of them. Please, do not judge me too harshly if I repeat myself today. It is work in the animal shelters, organising sports events and promoting healthy lifestyle values, offering free counselling and legal aid. Senior schoolchildren participants in the Big Recess contest help younger students to study and help senior citizens.
In short, kind, selfless acts are committed by an increasing number of people of various occupations and ages.
I want to underscore that we greatly appreciate your work and we will create proper conditions for it. Our country already has a whole network of volunteer centres, and special digital services were launched including the DOBRO.RU platform. It makes it possible to quickly identify people who need help. Let me also remind you that charity foundations and socially oriented non-governmental organisations have been granted special privileges. It has been done in contact with you; you identified the challenges facing the state in this area for supporting the volunteer movement.
Let me reiterate that all these steps are aimed at expanding the volunteer movement and enhancing its creative potential.
This year over 15 million citizens of our country – I did mention millions at the beginning – have taken part in various volunteer projects. But in reality there are many more people who respond to their neighbours’ misfortunes because sincere generosity, selflessness and compassion are a normal part of life for us. That is something that nobody will ever take away from us; it is the essence of our character, culture and traditions. It is passed on from generation to generation. As they say, it runs in our blood.
The best qualities of our people have always, throughout the entire history of the country, ensured Russia’s moral and ethical leadership, and helped us overcome any ordeals. We have many slogans and sayings about it, and they reflect exactly this essence.
When tragedy arrived this spring, each of us, all of society realised and felt that we are in this together. Mutual support, engagement and readiness to come to the rescue, all that does not depend on any political or any other views, which is vitally important. This is something that is above politics and something that truly unites us all.
Let me repeat, we have revisited many ideas this year, we began to appreciate life even more, given greater care and attention to our family members, friends and the people who live and work side by side with us.
Now we have more kindness, trust, compassion and unity. That is not quite right, what I mean is that these qualities have been revealed now, people are no longer diffident about showing them, on the contrary, they began to take pride in that, and this is crucial.
It is important to preserve and multiply all that because we will be able to move on and reach ambitious goals in both social and even technological development, economic development only when we have such a solid moral foundation.
I would like to thank all volunteers for your compassion and sincerity, for making the lives of our people better and for sharing your heart and warmth with them every day. Thank you very much for that.
I know that Alexei and Inessa [co-hosts of the meeting with volunteers] have prepared a substantive programme today. We will talk about your projects, your opinions of how and what is organised in our country and what else is needed. You can voice your suggestions so that we can help you and other volunteers like you.
I am at your disposal. Go ahead.