President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Mikhalkov, I won’t keep you long.
You are really going to have a rather busy day today, but I would still like to extend my greetings to you, even if in this form, online, which has become a modern trend. I just wanted to see you and to wish you a happy birthday. I would also like to wish you good health, which is a traditional kind of birthday greeting but it is especially significant in the current situation. In addition to wishing you good health, I would also like to wish you many more years in your profession.
Mr Mikhalkov, you have many prizes, awards and winner’s badges, including Soviet, Russian and foreign ones. The names of some of them speak volumes, like an international award for your contribution to global culture. You may be aware – the news has been already published in the media – that today I signed Executive Order awarding the title of Hero of Labour of the Russian Federation to you.
Of course, you are an extremely talented person and an outstanding member of Russian and global culture. But there is no doubt that each of your achievements is the result of very hard work. Of course, one must be talented to make a career in your profession, but it is also hard work.
Nikita Mikhalkov: Mr President, frankly, I was excited to learn about this award. My profession is very emotional, so I need to somehow restrain my emotions. This is a great reward for me.
Truth be told, there is not much one can do all alone in my profession. Of course, this award is also for my wonderful comrades and associates. In all sincerity, I share this award with them, because without them none of this would have been possible.
You know, when you work for only money or reward, you can never have enough. You always feel like you did not get enough. We did not work for that at all, and for me, in these challenging times, it is extremely important that you acknowledge what we are doing.
Mr President, I understand how hard it is for you and for people in general, because we are besieged. We are the only country today, outside Asia and Africa, that maintains and fights to preserve Christian values and traditional cultural values in general. And naturally, I understand that this sort of antagonism against us began with your Munich speech.
We call both Asia and Europe home, so we can use the wisdom of both continents. I want to give you a wonderful Chinese proverb, which I find helpful: “Throw dirt at me, throw stones at me, I am a river.” This is a deep and accurate message. We must understand that we are a river, and we must not be broken by what they want to do to us, by the fact that they want to force us to live according to their rules.
For my part, on behalf of our studios and our Besogon programme, which, I know, you occasionally watch, and on behalf of the academy, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of your recent birthday. When an opportunity presents itself, I will give you a book that has just been published about the history of the Mikhalkov family during the 15th-17th centuries. You know, Mr President, it is a strange feeling to be reading about my ancestors who served the Fatherland and, in this sense, I hope we will continue, try to continue to serve.
Once you told me that anything can be forgiven, except betrayal. I absolutely agree with that. I would like to wish that you and I are disappointed in people as seldom as possible. This is always sad. Our family and I will continue to serve the Fatherland, not the authorities, but the Fatherland, as you do, I hope.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Mikhalkov, unfortunately, I cannot give you something you may find significant and interesting now, but I will definitely do so personally as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Today, I want to congratulate you once again and, despite the fact that the working day has not yet ended, I would like to raise this glass to your health, purely symbolically.
Nikita Mikhalkov: I will also do this, and I also want to… Mr President, you know and understand everything. Believe me, I am a steadfast supporter, without flattery. To your good health!
Vladimir Putin: To your good health, Mr Mikhalkov.
Nikita Mikhalkov: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: All the best!
Nikita Mikhalkov: Thank you, Mr President. All the best!