Speech at the National Unity Day Reception 2008-11-04 17:52:11 The Kremlin, Moscow President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen! Dear friends! I congratulate you on our national holiday – National Unity Day. We are celebrating this holiday only for the fourth time, but its origins go very far back to important events in our wonderful history, events that we all know and value very much. Back in 1612 people of very different social classes, confessions and ethnic groups became aware of the devastating strife that divided our country and joined together and rescued Russian statehood, saved our country from invaders, and charged their descendants to protect and strengthen Russia. National Unity Day was established in honour of this national feat that bears witness to the civic feelings of the people who put an end to the Time of Troubles. Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky led a volunteer militia; they were true patriots and their courage, ability to unite people, and devotion to the Fatherland were actually determinant factors in allowing our country to be an independent, autonomous and strong state. That victory of the people propelled national unity to the ranks of the highest spiritual values. After nearly four centuries such values remain of utmost importance today. This historic legacy has not been interrupted. Love for the Motherland and deep moral kinship link us with our ancestors. And just as they did, we continue to strengthen the unity of our society, knowing that the unity of the Russian people is essential for Russia’s successful development for the years and decades to come. There are many of our compatriots from around the world in this hall today. Their involvement in the life of modern Russia is increasing. Dear friends! We see your desire to work together and unite. And we feel the interest and the openness with you respond to our programmes and present your own projects. We see how much time and effort you devote to strengthening ties between Russia and other nations, strengthening ties with your historic Motherland, and of course helping the development of a constructive dialogue between Russia and its foreign partners. I would like to highlight your active participation in expanding Russian-speaking spheres. It is in large part thanks to your work that the influence of Russian culture in the world continues to grow. You support Russian theatres, libraries, cultural centres, media and thereby help other countries, their citizens and simply ordinary people better understand Russia today. There are compatriots among us who have received prestigious state awards and now they will be presented with Russian orders and medals. These compatriots include cultural figures, Russian language teachers and leaders of social organisations. I would like to sincerely thank you all for your tremendous contribution to the preservation and development of our national heritage. Thank you for this. And again I want to say thank you to all those who love and help our country. We are united in these desires. I congratulate all those present on National Unity Day. Please proceed to the awards ceremony. *** Dear friends! Of course I would once again like to congratulate all those present on this occasion. This is a young holiday but I hope it will find and restore spiritual traditions that existed in the past and still exist today. I would like once again to thank you warmly for what you do. Such unity is a prerequisite for the development of the country, but it is particularly necessary at a time when the state and society must pass through a particularly trying time. This year was not the easiest for our country and during our trials – military, political, and economic ones – we feel your support, your true love for Russia, and for the people who live and work here. And such unity is very valuable. Thank you very much. Congratulations!