Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attends the unveiling of a WWII monument in Moscow’s Poklonnaya Gora memorial park
21 december 2010
Vladimir Putin’s address:
Ladies and gentlemen, dear war veterans,
I am pleased that we have gathered today for the ceremony of unveiling the monument to heroes of the Great Patriotic War.
This monument is a symbol of unity of those who fought Nazism, people of different nationalities and faiths who suffered the most merciless war in the history of humankind. It is a symbol of the unity of the nations who defeated Nazism and saved our civilisation from destruction and hatred, and a reminder that they fought shoulder to shoulder in that war against Nazism.
Today, we will again bow our heads to the memory of all those who paid the highest price for our victory – their lives – and those who fought out the battles of Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kursk, who fought the war through to the end and raised the Victory Banner over the German parliament in Berlin.
The monument in the Poklonnaya Gora memorial park testifies to our respect for the heroism of our people and reflects our joint will and firm resolve to protect the truth about war heroes, to defend it from the cynics, barbarians and liars, and to stand up together against nationalism, xenophobia and extremism no matter what fine words are used to camouflage them.
A year ago, nearly all television channels broadcast the destruction of a war monument in Kutaisi, Georgia, in an inglorious act of state vandalism. It provoked an outrage around the world, and first of all in Georgia, which is understandable because people cannot support those who destroy their memory and worse still, the memory of their heroes, who turn their backs on their own history and on century-old traditions of friendship and mutual understanding.
I am confident that nothing can separate the Russian and Georgian peoples or sever the traditional human and cultural ties between them. This means that the future belongs to neighbourly, truly equal partner relations between Russia and Georgia. This is Russia’s sincere desire.
We promised our veterans to replace the monument that had been destroyed in Kutaisi. We have fulfilled our promise.
It is notable that our joint work on the monument has boosted dialogue between our countries’ civil societies. I am happy to welcome our guests from Georgia – prominent politicians, public figures and our dear veterans – in Moscow. All of us regard the Russian-Georgian friendship as a major and unconditional asset.
In May this year, shortly before Victory Day, we laid a stone in the foundation of the monument. As many as 65,000 people took part in public discussions of the monument, and 6,000 people and 300 organisations, including the Union of Georgians in Russia, made donations for its construction. I would like to express gratitude to everyone who thought it their duty to contribute to this unique project, in a way becoming the monument’s co-authors.
I want to stress that donations did not only come from Georgia and Russia; we have received contributions from nearly all other CIS countries, which comprises a dozen states. We have seen again that people’s attitude to our common history and our common values cannot be humiliated or betrayed, and that the spiritual and moral heritage of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War remains sacred to an overwhelming majority of our people.
I would like to emphasise that victory in the Great Patriotic War was ensured not only by military force but also and above all by unity: the unity of our people’s will and the striving of many nations to unite in the fight against a common threat. We know without a doubt that we have no right to forget the mandate of those who protected the lives and freedom of future generations, our lives and our freedom. This is why it is our duty to work jointly to bring people together, and not to betray the wisdom, courage and selfless friendship of the soldiers of victory.
I would like to thank once again everyone who took part in creating this unique monument. I wish you all good health.