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MOSCOW, February 23 (Itar-Tass) — Presidential candidate and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addressed participants in the "Defend Russia" rally in the Large sports arena of the Luzhniki stadium here on Thursday.
"I am greeting everyone, those who are here and those outside the Large sports arena. Tens of thousands of people have come here and this is symbolic," he said.
Putin emphasized that people of various nationalities and religion, men and women came to Luzhniki. "It is fine that we have gathered here today, on February 23, the Fatherland Defenders Day, for you are the real defenders of our Fatherland," the presidential candidate said.
"We have come here to say that we love Russia," Putin said, asking those present in the gradstands to say aloud and in one word whether they love Russia." "Yes!" was the common answer.
Putin then said, "There are tens of thousands and tens of millions of people like us. We want to ensure that there are more of us and we have more children for them to receive education. We are prepared to work for the good of the Motherland". The Head of Government stressed that he and those present at the rally would not allow it to happen that some people interfere in the internal political affairs and "dictate their will to us, since we have a will of our own," Putin stated.
The presidential candidate also stated with regret that in Russia so far there are many problems such as injustice, inequality, graft, and poverty. "I dream of every person in our country living according to the rules, and in line with his or her conscience so that everyone would be happy and have hope. But the main thing is that we all have been together," he said.
Putin thanked all those present for their support. "I thank you for your moral support, for each vote of yours," he said. At the end of the speech, the Head of Government quoted verses from Mikhail Lermontov's poem "Borodino". He also pointed out that he had no doubt about winning a triumph. "Triumph will be ours," he said in conclusion.