Vladimir Putin's speech at the Russian Geographical Society Board of Trustees meeting (April 27, 2015, Saint Petersburg)

Let me greet all participants in this meeting of the Russian Geographical Society, which this year is celebrating its 170th anniversary. It is logical that we should mark this anniversary at the RGS’ historical headquarters here in St Petersburg, which preserves the memory of many famous scientists, researchers and educators.

This was the place where people returned to after going on expeditions. It was here that they spoke about the victories, problems, failures perhaps, new plans and ideas. spoke from This podium, which is now more than a century old, saw such celebrated speakers as Fedor Litke, Petr Semyonov-Tian-Shansky, Nikolai Vavilov and Ivan Papanin – legendary figures who dedicated their lives to serving Russia.

The RGS’ greatest history is the example it gives of cooperation in the name of grand common goals and a deep understanding of patriotism and civic spirit. I want to say thank you to everyone who supports the Russian Geographical Society today, and above all to you, our friends, members of the board of trustees and the media councils. You make a big contribution to making it possible for the RGS to continue its worthy traditions of educating and promoting knowledge, and you bring to reality memorable and constructive projects that every year attract to your ranks more and more people with initiative and a desire to be involved.

It comes as no surprise that at least 70,000 people visited the RGS festival last year. There is demand in society for projects from which people can learn about their country in all its diversity, and this is why they met with such a positive reception.

What is important is that they bring people together for the sake of positive and constructive interests, and they also help to shape attitudes towards our homeland and its history, culture, and nature, and awaken in people the desire to become part of a big, open and honest cause and be of use to their Fatherland.

I think that at the festival, you should also present the RGS’ trustees and members of the media council. I have said before that your active participation in the RGS’ work should be widely publicised. You can do this by supporting the exhibitions organised by the RGS’ regional branches and the RGS’ projects.

There is a big selection to choose from. There are new projects among those that have been awarded grants. We will examine them today and see presentations. But I think we should start with a few words about the results for 2014. One of the biggest results was the expedition In Obruchev’s Footsteps, which the RGS launched together with the Geographical Society of China. The expedition is headed by our outstanding scholar, Professor Andrei Velichko.

Important media projects over this time included the excellent documentary Przhevalsky – A Road as Long as Life. The Astra-Art television company made the documentary especially to mark the 175th anniversary of this legendary explorer’s birth.

Special mention should be made of the cooperation between the RGS and the Russian State Library. More than 2,000 unique publications from its exchange collection have already been handed over to the Society's collection. In addition, last year the Society launched a mass effort dedicated to the anniversary of the Great Victory.

Some of the RGS special projects are part of the official 70th anniversary celebrations programme approved by the Government. This is very important and a great honour, and goes to show once again the significance of the Russian Geographical Society for the country and the trust it enjoys. It is recognition of its broad activities to study the history of the Great Patriotic War and preserve our historic memory.

It is thanks to the RGS that people have learned new facts about the sacrifice of the heroes of the Alaska-Siberia route, who delivered land-lease airplanes, and about the heroism of the Baltic paratroopers, who stormed the islands in the Gulf of Finland.

I would like to single out the work that made it possible to disclose the contribution made to the Great Victory by thousands of geographers, topographers and meteorologists. Today we have the opportunity to pay our deep respects and express our gratitude to some of those heroes. Two of them are here among us: Yury Simonov and Georgy Lappo.

Mr Simonov was a military topographer and worked behind the front line. After the war, he engaged in research and now, at the age of 92, he is a lecturer at Moscow State University’s Geography Department.

Mr Lappo was a flight radio operator and sometimes replaced the pilot, as we know from documents. His peacetime efforts are also dedicated to research. He is the founder of our national school of urban studies.

Geography enthusiasts and Great Patriotic War veterans, your combat and academic achievements are clearly worthy of the supreme award of the Russian Geographical Society – the Constantine Medal.

I would like to sincerely thank Mr Simonov and Mr Lappo once again for their heroism in combat, dedication to science and their work. You, your combat comrades and the entire war generation will remain for us a model of an honest attitude to our Motherland, to people and to life itself.

I wish you health, vivacity and all the best.



I would like to thank you once again for our joint work. We have a certain experience of on-site events. We will see how the construction or rather renovation of the regional headquarters in Sevastopol will move along. We will find the time, making sure it is convenient for everyone – we are all busy people, but I believe if we plan ahead everyone will be able to adjust their plans accordingly, so we could go there and observe the process.

We can see that the projects of the Russian Geographical Society are varied both in their geography and in subject matter. This is a serious contribution to the development of science aimed at creating conditions for the patriotic education of the younger generation, at the development of our Fatherland.

Thank you very much.


Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/49348