Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
I would like to congratulate everyone here from the bottom of my heart. This is a memorable day. Spiritual revival in our Russia is impossible unless we realise that our culture comprises a wealth of traditions of all religions that co-exist in this country. We can neither understand our present nor build our future without those traditions. The Russian Jewish community is gaining strength, which is part of a national revival of ethnic traditions and spiritual heritage.
Only recently repressions were a part of our reality, which now appears unbelievable. People had to study their mother tongue in underground classes with a rampant campaign against emigration. But then, who would put up with this country and live here in such conditions?
We have made great strides since then. Cultural exchanges and the development of intermingling ethnic traditions enrich our life, and make this country strong, assured and spiritually rich. I hope this community centre will promote the closest possible contacts with our former compatriots in Israel, where they make up about a quarter of the population – that is, about a million people – and in other countries. It is of tremendous importance for Russia to maintain and step up contacts with the entire Diaspora. Although this is a Jewish centre, I mean not only the Jewish but also the entire Diaspora, which includes people of every ethnicity and religion. We realise the important part the Russian Diaspora plays in the development of international economic and social ties.
A new cultural centre for education and creativity is opening in Moscow. I would like to stress its role in everyday life because family values are pillars of the community as age-old traditions pass from generation to generation.
Educational work is of extreme importance in your community. I think it will give us a chance to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish history and culture, and thus improve the entire nation’s values. I would like to thank the Federation of Jewish Communities for its contribution to the cause.
We owe Russia’s history to all its people, regardless of their ethnic origin and religion. Every person and every ethnic group added a colour of their own discoveries, gifts and stamina to the canvas of culture we all share. Jews have made a great contribution, as we all know.
Integrity is a stronger link than any other. May this Russian home of the Jewish community always have many guests. May friendship always reign here.
I wish you every success.