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Russian Geographical Society awards ceremony

December 7, 2018, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin took part in the Russian Geographical Society awards ceremony.

The President presented one of the awards to Igor Spiridenko, winner in the category Best Expedition in Russia and director of the Tyurikov’s Aircraft. Return project.

The purpose of the award-winning expedition was to recover the legendary Douglas C-47 aircraft from the tundra region on the Taimyr Peninsula. This is the only remaining intact aircraft in Russia from a series that were given to the Soviet Union by the Allies as part of the WWII-era land lease programme.

On April 23, 1947, the plane made an emergency landing in a remote area in northern Krasnoyarsk Territory. First pilot Maxim Tyurikov was able to land safely and avoid casualties. When no rescuers came after four days, however, the pilot, two crew members and six passengers left in search of help and were never seen again. Those who decided to stay were found alive.

The Douglas C-47 is being restored before being added to the collection of the Museum Park of the Exploration of Northern Territories in Krasnoyarsk.

The creators of the National Nature Reserve Heritage Lesson online project won Best Educational Project in Geography. Interactive lessons have been held in over 20, 000 schools across Russia.

The best science project is Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Digital Herbarium, a database of biodiversity with a million samples. Only three countries in the world have similar databases.

Best History and Culture Project went to participants of the Flooded Sacred Sites of Mologa, a large-scale study of the Rybinskoye Reservoir area.

Goodsurfing, an online service that helps combine travelling with volunteering, was awarded Best Youth Project. The project offers travel opportunities to 59 countries, and has brought together volunteers from 73 countries.

Bears of Kamchatka: Early Life, a documentary film, was named Best Media Project. Its authors spent seven months watching bear families and bear cub development. The documentary has received 17 film festival prizes.

Pure Games, a team competition in the collection and sorting of waste to clear natural landmarks, won Best Nature Conservation Project.

A total of 542 entries from 76 regions of Russia and other countries were submitted this year.

* * *

Speech at the Russian Geographical Society awards ceremony

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,

Before presenting the award, let me say a few words of gratitude both to our nominees for everything they have done and to everyone who takes part in such a comprehensive effort as national awareness, work that is very important for our country.

We have talked about the Russian Geographical Society’s distribution of about 100 grants and only seven awards, which is less than ten percent. But the rest are also doing very important, interesting and useful work.

We have talked about flora and fauna, about aging forests and about bears. These efforts require not only time and enthusiasm, but also courage.

I have indeed visited these places and have seen bears here and there. When they approached us from one side, we thought we should move and withdraw, you know. But these people were living there for seven months right next to the bears.

This is very interesting, exciting and practical. This work allows us to understand who we are, our past, and our future. This helps us grow stronger on the inside, and this is very important. This is one element in our national identity.

The only thing we should worry about is that we know very little about your efforts. These things have been accomplished, and more people should learn about them.

I am back from another Moscow Kremlin hall, where I congratulated the Heroes of Russia and the Soviet Union on our upcoming day (it is called Heroes of the Fatherland Day). I saw this enormous hall filled with so many people. Every one of them – I want to stress this – every one of them deserves to be recognised by the entire country, but we only know of a few of them. We need to educate young people, the younger generation using their lives as examples.

We need to educate people of all ages on the materials you publish. It is vitally important. I would like to ask our journalists, our culture personalities, film and television producers to include this in your programmes; this should be shown, because it is extremely interesting.

And I would like to thank everyone who does this, because thanks to your efforts, talent and courage, we all have the opportunity to immerse into the remarkable world of science, creativity, travel and self-understanding.

Mr Andron Konchalovsky [awards ceremony host, film director, jury member of the Russian Geographical Society’s photo contest The Most Beautiful Country] mentioned the first primitive artist whose rock engravings and drawings were found in caves in Spain.

I often travel in our enormous country. The mountains of Altai. Not a cave, just a giant rock. Rock engravings by an ancient artist depicting animals, birds and so on.

There were no scientists there and no one knows about this. We saw them, cleaned them with our hands.

We do not know how deep our culture and history are.

By the way, many researchers believe the mountains of Altai to be birthplace of the Turkic peoples. There are many things we do not know anything about even though we live next to them. We should know more.

And, of course, I would like to thank everyone who works in this field and wish you success.

Thank you very much.

December 7, 2018, The Kremlin, Moscow