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Presenting state decorations and the prize for contribution to strengthening the unity of the Russian nation

November 4, 2016, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin presented state decorations – the Order of Friendship and the Pushkin Medal – to foreign citizens who have made special contributions to strengthening peace, friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding among different peoples at a ceremony held in the Kremlin to mark the National Unity Day.

The Presidential Prize for contribution to strengthening the unity of the Russian nation was presented for the first time. It was established in 2016 and is awarded for successful efforts to strengthen the national civic consciousness and spiritual commonality of the multinational people of Russia, harmonise interethnic relations, and develop the ethnocultural diversity of the peoples of Russia. Honorary Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Daghestan Magomedali Magomedov was the first recipient of the award.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,

I would like to extend my warmest wishes to you on Unity Day.

This holiday was established as a symbol of the unbreakable bond of our people with the fate of the Fatherland, its history full of great achievements, severe tests and heroic victories.

Sincere love of the Motherland, readiness to protect it at all times has served as a reliable basis of the independence and sovereignty of our country.

More than four centuries ago, people of different nationalities and classes were united by deep, true feelings of patriotism. That was when the people, amidst all the discord, took responsibility to prevent the enslavement of the country. And this powerful unity made it possible to put an end to the tragedy of the so-called Time of Troubles, expel enemies from the homeland, stand up for the right to live according to one’s own principles and traditions, and preserve the unique Russian state, which was already a centre of world civilisation then.

And today, as we look back on those events centuries later, we feel the greatness of the civic deed of our ancestors, which was repeated many times by their descendants who defended the country, its honour and dignity.

Our strength lies in our loyalty to the traditions of national unity, our loyalty to the higher freedom an individual gains from taking the oath to the Fatherland, and our unwavering love of country, which cannot be felt on command. It is in our hearts.


Today, on this holiday we are starting a new tradition. The prize of the President of Russia for contribution to strengthening the unity of the Russian nation will be awarded for the first time. And Magomedali Magomedov, honorary chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Daghestan, is the first recipient.

For many years he headed this most multinational region of the country. And the contribution of Mr Magomedov to strengthening Russian statehood and consolidating peace and harmony in Daghestan are enormous. We remember the events of 1999 when residents of Daghestan courageously resisted the aggression of international terrorism.

Mr Magomedov, I would like to sincerely thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your great example of loyalty to the Fatherland.

State decorations are also being presented on Unity Day to foreign citizens, our friends who make a significant contribution to the development of multilateral cultural and humanitarian ties with Russia.

Such contacts help people understand each other, bring them together, often break down artificially imposed stereotypes, and as our friend Emir Kusturica rightly said once, they are an opportunity to get away from restrictions and feel the independence of the spirit. The works of this world renowned film director have opened up new ways to encounter Russian culture, both classical and modern.

The educational programmes initiated in the United States by Susan Lehrman represent an important mission. They are especially important today, when our relations with the United States are being tested. This shows that both in Russia and the United States there are people who value the relations between us, respect and love both the culture of the United States and the culture of Russia. Of course, this brings people together, and gives hope for the full restoration of our relations for the sake of our peoples.

The consolidation of ties between Russia and China is aided by the theatrical projects in which Mr Chen Ping plays a prominent role. I would like to underscore that it is thanks to such people that relations between Russia and the People’s Republic of China have reached an incredibly high level, a truly strategic partnership.

I am pleased to present the Order of Friendship to you, dear friends.

Foreign colleagues who have been honoured with the Pushkin medals are also present here as well.

I would like to thank all the guests for your efforts to preserve and spread Russian culture and the Russian language, and our spiritual traditions.

I would like to extend my warmest wishes to all Russian citizens, all those who are here in this hall, and all our compatriots living abroad.

Happy Unity Day!

Honorary Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Daghestan Magomedali Magomedov: Thank you very much, Mr President, for the high appreciation of my work.

You have decorated me with many state decorations, including the Order for Services to the Fatherland, I degree. But my biggest award, just like for all Russians, is that you have lived up to the expectations of the people that gave you the powers and the mandate of the President of the Russian Federation. You inherited a crumbling demoralised army and turned it into a cutting-edge, technically well-equipped, mobile and powerful army capable of defending our Motherland’s interests in any situation. You inherited a country with a ruined economy on the verge of collapse and disintegration, and turned it into a united, indivisible great power respected throughout the world. You are a respected person, people trust you.

Our country is going through difficult times due to external factors. We will survive. Russia will not be forced to its knees. Everybody is aware of how such attempts ended.

We, the people of Daghestan, have a special respect, appreciation and affection for you. We shall never forget your support in hard times. The Daghestani people will never forget your historic arrival in Daghestan in 1999, your trip to Botlikh, addressing our army’s soldiers and Daghestani militia. You gave a high assessment of Daghestan and its people.

In the murky times of the early 1990s, when almost everyone was declaring a so-called sovereignty and independence, Daghestanis resolutely said, “No, we remain within Russia!” And they confirmed their decision with their actions, when in 1999 they faced Russia’s enemy with arms in their hands and together with our army headed by you crashed the extremists and international terrorists, and defended the unity and independence of the Russian state.

I congratulate you, Mr President, on today’s great holiday. I wish you good health and success in your work.

I wish Russia, our Motherland, greatness, peace and prosperity.

Thank you.

Film director Emir Kusturica (in Russian): Mr President,

When we first met, I didn’t speak any Russian, and when we met again, I spoke only a little Russian. Now I thank you for this Order, and I thank you for the assistance to the Andricgrad cultural programme.

That is all.

President of Lehrman LLC Susan Lehrman (speaking in Russian):

Thank you very much for this honour.

(Speaking in English): In all my philanthropic endeavours, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s principle that “Beauty will save the world” has guided me.

The Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History that I founded is based on his principle.

Only be appreciating the beauty of culture and by respecting each other’s cultural roots and history can we establish stronger and more authentic bonds.

Real change must come from the heart, and I sincerely believe that the greatest way to reach the hearts and minds of people is through the beauty of cultural sharing and cultural dialogue.

Thank you from my heart, Mr President.

(Speaking in Russian): Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, Mr President.

President of the National Grand Theatre of China Chen Ping (retranslated):

Mr President, dear guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Today is an unforgettable and most important day in my life. It is a great honour to receive a precious award – the Order of Friendship, from Russian President Vladimir Putin here in the Kremlin, in Moscow.

The National Grand Theatre in Beijing has been actively cooperating with Russia’s outstanding performers. Many masterpieces of the Russian performing art have been shown to the Chinese audiences. Numerous Chinese spectators were deeply touched by those delightful, great works, which undoubtedly gave a strong impetus for making even deeper the traditional feeling of profound friendship bonding the peoples of China and Russia.

I am absolutely convinced that under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping and President of Russia Vladimir Putin the cultural exchanges between our countries will gather momentum, and the general public both in the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation will add new colours to the rich palette of the interaction between the two friendly nations in the spirit of greater openness and unanimity and will build up an even more beautiful common future.

On my part, I am ready to work tirelessly to promote joint plans and projects of my Russian colleagues, and I will be happy to witness new achievements.

I would like to once again express my sincere gratitude to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

Chairman of the Kyrgyz public fund The Russian Legacy Centre for Support of the Russian Language and Cultural Heritage Sergei Peremyshlin: Mr President, friends,

I am very happy to be here in the Kremlin today, which in itself is an award for me.

As to the state decoration you have awarded to me, it is a great honour. But it is not an award for me alone; this award also belongs to my parents, my family, friends, colleagues and associates. This is why, in the name of the personnel of the Russian Legacy public fund and the Chekhov School, which was opened as part of the implementation of the Russian School Abroad concept, let me thank you for the high award and assessment of our work.

As a Russian national living abroad, I would like to assure you that I am committed to earnestly work further for the good of the great Russia, preserving and representing its interests with all means available to me.

I would also like to say that the Russian diaspora in Kyrgyzstan fully supports your policy and is ready to march under your victorious banner.

Thank you very much.

Former Culture Minister of Armenia Hasmik Poghosyan:

Mr President, thank you for this honour. I give my thanks to Russia for Pushkin. I thank Armenia for the Pushkin School I graduated from. And my thanks to Alexander Pushkin for his beautiful language, for his aesthetics and philosophy.

Thank you.

General Secretary of the Austrian Association of Teachers of the Russian Language and Literature Erich Pointner:

Mr President, thank you for the award and the honour of being here. On behalf of Russian language teachers in Austria I promise that we will continue to further develop traditionally good relations between Austria and Russia and friendship between our peoples.

Director of the Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre, Republic of Moldova, Constantin Haret:

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to be given this medal on this great holiday. It reflects not just my work, but the work of the whole theatre – the Chekhov Russian Drama Theatre of Chisinau.

Despite all the complexities and challenges, our theatre firmly ranks first among the most visited theatres in our country because our audience is not just Russian speakers, we have Moldovans, Bulgarians and Gagauz people visiting. And we are rightfully called an islet of the Russian culture and Russian spirituality.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Friends,

Nothing is more fundamental than history and traditions because they are the things that were, they will never disappear. But nothing is more inspiring and bringing hope than culture because it is the road to the future.

Happy holiday! All the very best to you!

November 4, 2016, The Kremlin, Moscow