World

Putin on Russia Day praises country as open and democratic

  • Russian President, Vladimir Putin, speaks during a presentation ceremony of state awards marking the Day of Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 12, 2015. The holiday was established after the Soviet breakup to commemorate the emergence of an independent Russia. But there is widespread regret ovet the Soviet collapse, and former president Vladimir Putin renamed the holiday and turned it into a celebration of Russia's resurgence. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Russian President, Vladimir Putin, speaks during a presentation ceremony of state awards marking the Day of Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 12, 2015. The holiday was established after the Soviet breakup to commemorate the emergence of an independent Russia. But there is widespread regret ovet the Soviet collapse, and former president Vladimir Putin renamed the holiday and turned it into a celebration of Russia's resurgence. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin awards  Russian film director Alexander Sokurov during a presentation ceremony of state awards marking the Day of Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 12, 2015. The holiday was established after the Soviet breakup to commemorate the emergence of an independent Russia. But there is widespread regret ovet the Soviet collapse, and former president Vladimir Putin renamed the holiday and turned it into a celebration of Russia's resurgence. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin awards Russian film director Alexander Sokurov during a presentation ceremony of state awards marking the Day of Russia in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 12, 2015. The holiday was established after the Soviet breakup to commemorate the emergence of an independent Russia. But there is widespread regret ovet the Soviet collapse, and former president Vladimir Putin renamed the holiday and turned it into a celebration of Russia's resurgence. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, opposition activists Yekaterina Nenasheva, right, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wear prison uniforms during their demonstration inspired by the Russia Day holiday in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 12, 2015. The two women were detained while sewing a Russian tricolor flag in a square opposite the Kremlin. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the Pussy Riot group, spent nearly two years in prison for an anti-Putin protest inside a Moscow cathedral in 2012.  (Courtesy of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova via AP)

    In this photo provided by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, opposition activists Yekaterina Nenasheva, right, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wear prison uniforms during their demonstration inspired by the Russia Day holiday in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 12, 2015. The two women were detained while sewing a Russian tricolor flag in a square opposite the Kremlin. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the Pussy Riot group, spent nearly two years in prison for an anti-Putin protest inside a Moscow cathedral in 2012. (Courtesy of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Vladimir Putin, presenting state awards on Russia's analogue of independence day, has praised the country for democracy and openness.

The comments during a Kremlin ceremony come as criticism continues abroad of Putin for stifling opposition and promoting a culture of truculent and defensive patriotism.

Putin's Friday speech marked Russia Day, which commemorates the 1990 declaration state sovereignty for Russia, when it was one of 15 republics within the Soviet Union. He presented state awards to seven Russians for achievements in the arts, science and humanitarian affairs.

In the quarter-century since the declaration, Russia "has made a successful breakthrough to democracy and a market economy, but also able to establish itself as a modern, open and independent country," Putin said.

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