Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised his country for its democracy, openness, and independence at a ceremony marking Russia Day.
Putin spoke in Moscow while presenting state awards for achievements in science and technology, literature and arts, and humanitarian work on June 12, the day in 1990 that Russia adopted a sovereignty declaration.
Putin said that, in the past 25 years, Russia had made "a successful breakthrough toward democracy and a market economy" while asserting itself "as a modern, open, and independent country."
He said the country had "preserved the very essence and spiritual basis of Russian statehood" and that the "ideals of patriotism are so deep and strong that no one has ever been or will be able to re-encode Russia."
Putin -- who first came to power in 2000 after being appointed by President Boris Yeltsin -- added that it "is impossible to separate, tear us off, and isolate us from our native roots and origins."
Putin's comments come as criticism of Putin comes from abroad for his control of the media, opposition, and dissent in Russia -- and for promoting ultranationalist ideas and defensive patriotism.
Based on reporting by AP and Interfax