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Official website of the President of Russia

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Speech at meeting with veterans

September 17, 2010


I am very happy that on this day – Bryansk Liberation Day – I am here on Bryansk territory. I am very glad that today, here at this special Partizanskaya Polyana memorial, we have veterans not only from our own nation, not just those living here in Bryansk, but also our friends and comrades living in other states – nations that are very close to us and also participated in the partisan movement. These states are Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.

And naturally, the fact that we have gathered here specifically is very symbolic; it is a symbol of what unites us. Time relentlessly moves forward, but a key challenge for the government and for the President of the Russian Federation – as well as the presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova – is to ensure that the memory of these events remains forever in our nations’ history books. We must always remember what was done during that difficult war, and we must not forget the partisan movement, the partisans and members of the underground who found themselves in the enemy rear and destroyed it, brought us closer to victory, and performed heroic feats.

Unfortunately, the fact of life is that we have fewer and fewer veterans, and we are seeing the emergence of those who attempt to downplay the significance of the events during the Great Patriotic War. Sometimes, they even change the focus, calling those who fought for the freedom and independence of their nation subjugators, while trying to whitewash the aggressors and killers. I can tell you that we here in Russia will never allow this, because the price collectively paid by our nation was colossal, and an enormous number of people were sacrificed in this war. That is precisely why we must hold the memory of those years sacred, and we must help all those who are present here.

Dear veterans, I turn to you. Naturally, we very much count on you to talk with our youth, to tell young people about what happened. This is very important.

You know, I grew up in a somewhat different era. Back then, people talked a lot about the events of that war, but most importantly, there were many living witnesses from this difficult period. Now, unfortunately, there are far fewer of them, for obvious reasons. That is exactly why we must film new movies, create new programmes, and write objective books, including history textbooks, which sometimes, unfortunately, are also not written by historians, but rather, by politicians trying to achieve their petty goals.

We must work on all of these things together. The goal of the Russian government and, I’m sure, the governments of the other states whose veterans are present here – governments of our brotherly neighbours – is to create normal, humane, modern living conditions for veterans. Here in Russia, we try hard to do this.

Just on my way over here to see you, I was talking with the governor about the fulfilment of my Executive Order, which I signed practically the following day after assuming my presidency – the Executive Order on providing all veterans of the Great Patriotic War who live in our nation with new, modern housing. This Executive Order is being carried out everywhere – including here in the Bryansk Region, as far as I understand. Those who registered first have already received housing, and those who registered after 2005 will receive it very soon, practically by the end of this year. Out of two thousand people, nine hundred have already been assigned apartments. This is, perhaps, the least that the government can do for our veterans. I find it a pity that it wasn’t done earlier. But our goal is to pay that debt and honour our veterans now.

I am very happy to see you. Today is a wonderful day. It is Bryansk Liberation Day. It is also City Day; this is an ancient, 1025-year-old city, so that is also a pleasant event. Finally, today, we have wonderful weather. I hope that you are in a good mood.

I sincerely congratulate you on all these celebrations and I am very happy to be meeting with you.

I would just like to address one other issue – how we will be building relations with our neighbours. It is very important, because we are very close to one another. There have been different times in our relations; there have been times when we have been extremely close, and there was also a period when there were certain problems and we had, as they say, to emphasise certain points. The reason I am bringing this up now is that later today, after meeting with you, I will be going to a meeting with the President of Ukraine which will take place right on the border between Bryansk Region and Sumy Region. I think that this is a very good symbol of the way that good, sincere, brotherly relations should work between nations and between the leaders of their states.

Esteemed veterans, the truth is that when you receive these special gestures of attention, it creates positive feelings. After all, this map and this diary are real evidence of those events. I think that it is very important for these documents, these historical monuments, to be accessible to young people. Thus, I hope that you won’t be offended if I pass some of these objects on to a museum as displays, so that it will not only be accessible to me, but also to others who come to have a look at them, our nation’s young people, who will be able to see what it looked like, how everything was documented, and how it was used. Naturally, I would especially like to express my gratitude for the special commemorative medal in honour of the partisans and underground fighters. It is true that last year, I signed a special Executive Order on making amendments to our commemorative dates list. Now, our nation has a Partisans and Underground Fighters Day.

Naturally, not everything is done as quickly as we would have liked it. I don’t even really recall why such a memorial day had not been established earlier. But it’s great when we do the right thing, even if it happens a little later than we’d like.

It is also very pleasant to once again recall that the city of Bryansk is now a City of Military Glory, and that decision is memorialised in the monument standing here, while the official ceremony where the corresponding certificate was presented took place at the Kremlin. I think that it was a moment of pleasure and pride for everyone living in Bryansk, as well as all the inhabitants of our nation.

I would like to once again sincerely wish you all good health. I hope that you will spend some more time here, socialise, have some tea – there are beautiful cakes on the tables – and simply remember the past, talk about those who are no longer with us, and think about the future. And I want to say again that in our future, I envision joint development between our states such that the people living in our nations are living happy, safe, modern lives, and veterans are feeling comfortable and are enjoying care and attention. That is the sacred duty of our government.

September 17, 2010