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Presentation of Hero of Labour Medals and Russian Federation National Awards

June 12, 2021, The Kremlin, Moscow

On Russia Day, St. George’s Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace hosted a ceremony of presenting Gold Medals of Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation and the 2020 National Awards in Science and Technology, Literature and Art, human rights and charity work.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, 

I am delighted to welcome you to the Kremlin. First of all, I would like to congratulate everyone who has gathered here in this hall and all Russian citizens on Russia Day.

This holiday symbolises our Fatherland’s contemporary development, as well as its continuous centuries-old path, the grandeur of its history, endeavours, victories and achievements.

Many generations of our ancestors created this immensely rich legacy. Their labour and military feats and their infinite devotion to our Motherland evoke respect and pride, a striving to be worthy of their heroic destinies, to preserve and assert the values that have been bequeathed to us and which now have tremendous significance for our entire movement forward.

We can see this in the achievements of today’s scientists, cultural workers, public activists and top-level professionals who are united by sincere love for their work and a desire to benefit our Motherland.

Russia’s top decorations and awards recognise their service to the country and the people. Today, they will be presented to the best among the best.

The title of Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation has been conferred on Icebreaker Captain Gennady Antokhin. His 30-year work record includes risks and triumphs, dozens of extremely difficult expeditions and rescue operations. Mr Antokhin generously shares his professionalism with young captains and teaches them how to safely escort ship convoys in the harsh environment of the Arctic. He rightfully ranks among the most influential instructors at the Far Eastern Shipping Company.

Tractor driver Alexander Bondarenko from the Don River area has devoted almost half a century to his profession. A member of a workers’ dynasty, he is sincerely concerned about his work and achieves outstanding results. It is precisely these dedicated, strong and truly hard-working people that drive the growth of the Russian agriculture sector and who provide record-breaking harvests of which the entire country feels proud.

Lyudmila Suslyakova is an amazing woman whose unique toughness, fortitude and diligence are so characteristic of Kuzbass residents. She operates a crane at a blast furnace department and has been managing hot iron flows for the past 40 years. At the same time, she cares for other people, helps improve working conditions, teaches young people the secrets of her profession and helps children at an orphanage.

Murad Kazhlayev has long dreamed of devoting his life to children. An outstanding orchestra conductor, composer and a wonderful melodist, he enriched world culture with musical traditions of Daghestan, his homeland, created unique symphonies and ballets, jazz compositions and soundtracks for theatre performances and feature films. But he prioritises efforts to bring up new talents in Makhachkala, his birthplace. An art school for gifted children successfully operates there due to his efforts.

Heroes of Labour also include Engineer Viktor Polyakov. An employee of ODK Saturn Plant in Yaroslavl, he worked his way through the ranks and was eventually promoted from machine fitter to managing director. The plant is developing successfully under his guidance and expands production of engines for aircraft and sea-going ships, electric power plants and industrial units. It has been rated a reliable supplier of high-tech and science-intensive equipment that the country needs for expediting its development.


2021 has been declared the Year of Science and Technology in Russia. This is a sign of our deep gratitude to Russian scientists who have been the glory of our country at all times and made a colossal contribution to the humankind’s progress in many areas of knowledge.

The power of Russian science and the Russian academic school was on full display last year, when people all around the world were waiting for scientists to save them from the coronavirus pandemic, and our researchers succeeded, even triumphed, we can say: in the shortest possible time, they developed an effective vaccine from COVID-19: Sputnik V. This made it possible for Russia not only to ensure that the vaccine is available for Russians but also to provide vital help to other countries. This is our country’s responsibility as a leading scientific power before the whole world.

Let me stress that this result was achieved thanks to the unique knowledge scientists accumulated as they developed other vaccines, such as the Ebola vaccine, among others. The solutions found by Russian scientists opened a path to the long-awaited vaccines from other dangerous viral diseases. This breakthrough was achieved by Alexander Gintsburg, Denis Logunov and Sergei Borisevich, who have been conferred the National Award in science and technology.

The winners also include founders of a new approach to treating head and neck tumours: Igor Reshetov, Evgeny Choinzonov and Sadulla Abakarov. They use their world-class original developments, high-precision and gentle treatment, and the most advanced methods of tissue and organ restoration. This innovative therapy has made it possible for thousands of patients to overcome the disease and live their life to the fullest.

Our scientists have also made a leap forward in fundamental physics. Valery Zapassky and Yevgeny Aleksandrov have invented a new concept of studying the object’s magnetic characteristics at the atomic level. This method can unveil the mystery of how elemental particles form objects, which is important for developing technologies for construction, energy, medicine and exploration of space and the World Ocean. And, of course, this knowledge leads us to another revolution in science and technology and quantum computer engineering, which would give a massive boost to the development of science. Russia’s positions are very confident here.

National Prizes in Literature and Art have been conferred on outstanding cultural figures.

Grigory Alfeyev (Metropolitan Hilarion) carries on the traditions of Russian education while combining his church service with positive creative activity. His literary, musical and cinematographic works become an event in Russia’s cultural life, and his education programmes on Russian television gather million-wide audiences all over the world.

Another of today’s winners is famous around the world. The National Award is conferred on Khibla Gerzmava, with her enchanting voice and unique acting talent, for her contribution to the development of Russian and world operatic art. She can skilfully perform both the most complex parts of the opera repertoire and jazz compositions, and is one of the most popular Russian singers. Khibla Gerzmava successfully combines her work at the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre with touring, teaching and charity activity.

Alexander Rukavishnikov, one of the most famous masters of monumental sculpture in the world, is another winner of the National Award. His brilliant talent can solve even the most difficult creative tasks, and his works are not only skilfully composed, but also filled with a deep understanding of the essence of the images he creates as well as an impeccable sense of space. Alexander Rukavishnikov, loyal to the traditions of Russian architecture, has created a unique artistic style. He shares the secrets of his art with his numerous students and actively supports the development of contemporary Russian sculpture.

I am very pleased to introduce the winner of the National Award for Outstanding Achievements in Human Rights. Yelena Topoleva-Soldunova chose to support the development of civil society over a quarter of century ago. She stood at the origins of many social and volunteer initiatives, and took part in the development of the legal framework for the work of NGOs. The fact that today charity work and volunteering have become commonplace in Russia is largely due to her.

Winner of the National Prize for Outstanding Achievements in Charity Work, Faina Zakharova, has also dedicated her life to working for the benefit of society. Her enormous energy of kindness and compassion, as well as bravery and intelligence are completely devoted to the Life Line Charity Foundation: an organisation that has helped more than 10,000 children. The foundation’s experience, including in introducing high-tech treatment of children’s congenital heart defects, is a clear example of how civil society is able to address the most acute problems, including finding, supporting and proposing effective practices to the state that can guarantee help for everyone in need.


Each one of you makes an important contribution with your creative work to the spiritual development of the Russian nation as well as promotion of fundamental moral values and public accord. Together you represent a shining constellation of Russia’s best sons and daughters, true patriots of our country.

You can see that I have named more winners that those who are present in this Kremlin’s Hall today. Unfortunately, not all of our Heroes of Labour and winners of National Awards were able to attend this ceremony for various reasons. Gold medals and winner badges will be awarded to them later.

However, all of us – the entire nation, entire Russia – are proud of you and wish you strong health and further success for the prosperity of our Motherland.

Thank you for your attention.


Vladimir Putin: Friends,

As per tradition, our winners talked today about their families and loved ones, about their teachers, teammates and colleagues, whose efforts help to achieve outstanding results. On the one hand, this is done out of tradition, but on the other, it shows the strong foundation of creative work, talent, spiritual generosity, and valour our Fatherland is based upon. It progresses and develops steadily thanks to people like today’s winners.

Thank you very much.

Congratulations to all of us, all Russians, on Russia Day.

June 12, 2021, The Kremlin, Moscow