Russian president praises 1990s as cradle of democracy

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MOSCOW, June 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the celebration of Day of Russia, said the early 1990s opened up a new era of freedom and democracy for the Russians and Russian state. "It is then that the groundwork was laid for a truly federal Russia, and the rights and property of the citizens were constitutionally protected," the Russian president said.

"Our country has totally changed its structure in the last 15 years. Radical changes in all areas of life not just happened - they became a fact of life. The Russian people have realized their own choice of free development, the development of their spirit and creativity," he said.

Giving new national awards to arts and public figures, Putin said:

"Famous citizens of this country have received these awards as a sign of recognition of their paramount service to the state and the people. They have achieved unmatched intellectual and creative heights, contributed to the development of cutting-edge technology and knowledge, and their priceless talents and industry enriched our science and art."

Academic and artistic achievements not only help develop the country, but also speak volumes about the capability of its people, he added.

"Today we can really solve problems at a qualitatively new level. This is a thorough modernization of economy, a new course in science and education, formation of the market of affordable housing, and a comprehensive upgrade of the industrial and transport infrastructure," the president said.

"We all want to see a prospering, free, powerful, and influential Russia. All these feelings unite us, makes us stronger, and open up new opportunities to address objectives and targets important for the entire nation," Putin said.

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