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After the April 22 meeting with veteran builders and workers of Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) on the 50th anniversary of the initiation of works on the railroad, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in a gala event on April 23 as part of the celebration. Although Putin emphasized many of the same themes he took up the day before, the following additional excerpts from the gala event are worth noting, especially as they relate to Russia’s “pivot to the east” in its global economic and foreign policy orientation:

“About two million people were involved in this project. For many of them, the construction of the BAM and later working there became their life-work, the apotheosis of their dreams, work, courage, the calling of many generations of families and, of course, a real feat without any exaggeration.

“Working in impassable swamps, taiga, on the rocks and in permafrost conditions, our builders were laying kilometers of steel tracks, resolving incredibly challenging problems, and implementing entirely new constructive, engineering and technical solutions… These people carried out one of the world’s biggest infrastructure projects of the entire 20th century. They laid a transport artery that was vital for the country.

“The BAM played a major role in the exploration of the Eastern Siberia, the Far East, and our North, making it possible to develop rich deposits of coal, iron ore, tin, gold, copper, molybdenum, oil and gas, and to use this powerful raw material base for the operation of integrated plants and factories and, for the long-term development of national industry.

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