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Official website of the President of Russia

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Speech at the Presentation of the Standard to the Director of the Federal Border Service

March 16, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers,

Dear friends,

This is a special day for Russian border guards. The Director of the Federal Border Service is being presented with the standard, a mark of distinction.

The standard is a sign of a military leader’s powers given to him by the state. It also symbolises the tremendous personal responsibility for their tasks and subordinates.

The banners and standards of Dmitry Donskoi, Dmitry Pozharsky, Field Marshal Boris Sheremetev and General Mikhail Skobelev are immortalised in Russian history.

Today, Russian servicemen, including those of the Pskov Airborne Division’s heroic 104th Regiment and border guards fighting courageously in the mountains of Chechnya, still prove their allegiance to the military oath and banner.

Comrade officers,

I would like to use this opportunity to say a few words about high-priority tasks facing the Federal Border Service.

Your greatest challenges remain the fight against international terrorism and organised crime, smuggling and illicit drug trafficking.

Efforts to control Russia’s state borders in the Chechen Republic are a high-priority aspect. As the counter-terrorist operation’s military phase is drawing to a close, you will have to guarantee the safety of Russian borders in this sector. This is an extremely responsible task. Not a single terrorist must be allowed to enter Russia or escape just retribution.

I consider the involvement of the Federal Border Service in defending the state’s economic interests to be a top priority. Your work in this sphere will make a great contribution to Russia’s resurgent economy.

We have no intention of reinstating the notorious Iron Curtain. Russia needs civilised borders of a state open to the world.

Consequently, reliable protection of national borders must be effectively combined with the creation of incentives for expanded business and humanitarian ties.

We must more effectively protect the country’s natural and biological resources. It would be no over-exaggeration to say that they are our future, and we must make every effort not to squander Russia’s riches. This problem cannot be solved by separate, even if ambitious, campaigns. What we need is regular and systematic work.

Border guards should cooperate more actively with local authorities. This also implies cooperation within the framework of border-policy coordinating councils. My trips to other regions have convinced me that local governments are interested in such cooperation. Practice shows that many issues are settled more quickly and effectively at grass-roots level.

Dear friends,

Today, we must remember all those who defended our Fatherland, from the earliest history of our nation to those who fought to the death in 1941. We bow our heads before the heroes of Lake Khasan and Damansky Island, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and before those who are fighting terrorists and militants. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

I hope this standard will have a long and glorious life. And I also want to wish our border guards every success.

In conclusion, I want to say that people do not become border guards by chance. It is their destiny to serve their country far away from their warm homes, soft armchairs and sprawling cities. These people spend most of their lives on the border and far away from civilisation. After all, Russia is a vast country, and its borders are located a great distance from the main cities.

They are engaged in what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult kinds of military service requiring great courage and strength of character.

We still have a great deal to do in order to improve border guards’ living standards that must reflect their self-sacrifice and crucial long-term role in the destiny of our Fatherland.

On this day, I want to address all border guards. I want to wish you all happiness and every success in serving our Fatherland.

Thank you very much.

March 16, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow