Russian President Vladimir Putin presented awards to scientists, artists, and scholars on June 12 as part of activities marking Russia Day, a national holiday celebrating the then-Soviet republic's declaration of state sovereignty in 1990.
The Russian Federation National Award was established in 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, replacing the U.S.S.R. State Prize. The annual awards -- presented during a ceremony at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow -- consist of a cash prize of 5 million rubles ($76,500), a medal, and a certificate.
In the field of medicine, for research into molecular immunity, Putin honored Sergei Nedospasov. Lev Dodin, art director and director of the Maly Drama Theatre -- Theatre of Europe received the national award in literature and the arts for his contribution to the development of Russian and global theatre. Viktor Zakharchenko, artistic director of the Kuban Cossack Choir and film director Sergei Ursulyak were also given awards, among others.
Concerts, festivals, and fireworks were being held in Moscow and other cities, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev congratulated the country on Russia Day.
Many Russians do not know what the holiday commemorates. According to a 2015 poll by the independent Levada Center, only 3 percent of Russians consider it among the important holidays of the year.