12 June 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Russia has "chosen the values of patriotism, freedom, and democracy" as the country observes its independence day.
"Over the past few years, we have been able to achieve difficult, important goals," Putin said. "We united and strengthened the country, raised its economic potential, and strengthened our state's international positions."
Putin spoke in Moscow's Red Square as troupes in folk costumes representing Russia's 89 regions paraded in an official celebration of "Russia Day."
Also in attendance at the ceremonies was Russia's first post-Soviet President Boris Yeltsin.
"Russia Day" marks 12 June 1990, when the congress of people's deputies of Russia adopted a declaration of state sovereignty. The Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991.