Speech at a Meeting with Rasul Gamzatov 2003-09-08 21:16:26 Bocharov Ruchei Residence, Sochi Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Rasul Gamzatovich, Dear friends, First of all, allow me once more to welcome you from all my heart and say how happy we, and everyone in Russia who loves you, are to see you in good health. It gives us great pleasure to be able to congratulate today on the occasion of your eightieth birthday. For many decades now it has been impossible to imagine this country’s political and public life, not to speak of its literary life, without the name of Rasul Gamzatov. Millions of people know your name and devotedly call you their favourite poet. Today, many of your admirers are here, even though this hall is small. But our country is big and it loves you. It loves you for your great sincerity and for the elegant way in which you teach us fundamental human values such as friendship, loyalty and conscience. You have received many awards and titles, but the greatest among them is that of People’s Poet. You are a poet not only of your own people, the Avar people, and not only of the people of Dagestan. We are all proud to be able to call you a great Russian poet. Your name, Rasul, means representative or messenger. Through your life and work you have always lived up to this high calling. You are undoubtedly a representative of the entire Russian people, a representative of human culture, and your poetry belongs to all the peoples of the Russian Federation. You have made your home famous throughout the whole world. You have brought glory to the Avar language and to the people living in this fine land. If we take one of your most famous books, “My Dagestan,” we can open it at any page and always find something interesting. This book contains so many wise thoughts, beautiful legends and kind, good-natured humour. Within its pages it captures all the thoughts and feelings of an entire people. You called one of your latest books “The Mountain Dweller’s Constitution.” This collection of personal laws contains only seven articles, but they encompass the entire sense and essence of human life. Your spiritual beacons continue to be conscience, honour, goodness and love. You have always been attuned to the voice of the times and have always known how to tell people about what really matters, about what worries and concerns them. Today a great many people admire your poetry and also support the wisdom you show as a citizen and your personal dignity. Thank you for your exceptional educational work, your talent and your resolute stand as a man and a citizen. Once again, allow me to sincerely congratulate you on your birthday and wish you health and successes in your creative work.