Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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Putin: Democracy has helped the arts in Russia
June 10, 2003

MOSCOW (AP) - Democratic reforms have enriched the arts in Russia, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday as he handed out prizes for acting, poetry and other create achievements.

``Democracy and freedom have opened up new opportunities for creative endeavors in Russia and for displaying one's talent,'' Putin said at the Kremlin ceremony, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

The value of freedom ``is most keenly felt by the older generation of masters of the arts, who lived through the era of tight censorship and ideological bans, and who have firsthand experience of stubborn conservatism and reluctance to accept the free spirit of creative endeavor,'' ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying.

Putin handed out 35 prizes in areas as diverse as children's literature, television documentaries and airplane design.

Among the prominent laureates were pianist Vladimir Krainev, actor Oleg Tabakov and French choreographer Roland Petit, who received an award for the ballet ``The Queen of Spades'' at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.

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