4 May 201717:48

Speech by General Director Sergey Vyazalov at a gala marking the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, May 4, 2017

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Distinguished war veterans,

Esteemed colleagues, friends,

It is a great honour for me to speak on behalf of Sergey Lavrov at today’s meeting, to congratulate those who fought in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and contributed to the war effort on the home front, all those present on what is without exaggeration the most sacred of all holidays for all of us – Victory Day.

In Russia generation after generation cherish the memory of the grim trials of those years, the heroic struggle of our people for the freedom and independence of our Motherland. Today it is clearer than ever that the Great Victory is a historic event on a truly worldwide, universal scale which rid the whole of civilisation of the horrors of the scourge of fascism. It is our perennial duty to preserve the truth about the unsurpassed feats of heroism and the colossal sacrifice of those grim war years and to pass it on untarnished to posterity.

Our diplomats have also made their contribution to the glorious chronicle of Victory. At the very start of the war 163 members of the staff of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs joined the 6th Moscow Volunteer Infantry Division to fight the Nazis outside Moscow. An obelisk to commemorate the Foreign Ministry workers who died in battle was unveiled in the village of Ozerishche, Smolensk Region, on September 25 of last year. Taking part in that commemorative event, which was to a large extent made possible by donations from Foreign Ministry workers, were the members of the regional leadership, Ministry representatives and veteran diplomats. Let me remind you that a plaque commemorating the volunteers was unveiled on the former foreign ministry building on Kuznetsky Most back in 2014.

A total of 237 members of the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs took up arms against the enemy. 106 of them died a hero’s death on the front. The names of the heroes are immortalised on commemorative plaques in the vestibule of the Ministry’s central office. Eight Ministry workers have been awarded the prestigious title of Hero of the Soviet Union and one was decorated with three Orders of Glory. More than 300 of our colleagues took part in building fortifications to defend the capital.

The march of time is relentless. Today our ranks include more than 40 veterans of the Great Patriotic War, eight citizens who survived the siege of Leningrad, three former inmates of Nazi death camps, and 88 veterans who worked on the home front. Let me extend my heartfelt welcome to Hero of the Soviet Union Sergey Romanovtsev who is present at our meeting today.

Needless to say, credit is due for the contribution to Victory made by our comrades who in the hard years of the war upheld the interests of our country on the foreign policy fronts, organising and sustaining the joint efforts of the anti-Hitler coalition, laying the foundations of the post-war world architecture, including the creation of the United Nations Organisation, a modern system of international law and security.

Regrettably, we have to acknowledge that more than 70 years after the defeat of Nazism, attempts are multiplying to falsify the history of the Second World War, which, among other things, undermines the foundation of the modern international order and causes serious damage to relations between states. The policy of making heroes out of Nazis, justifying their accomplices, as President Putin has stressed, not only insults the memory of the victims, but fuels nationalistic, xenophobic and radical sentiments. Of particular concern is the situation in Ukraine as well as the campaign unleashed in a number of European countries against the monuments to Soviet citizens who gave their lives for the prosperous future of our shared continent.

Preserving historical truth is our duty to the generation of victors and an important factor in consolidating Russian society in order to meet the major challenges facing modern Russia. We will continue to firmly and consistently counter the attempts to revise history.

It is heartening that in these efforts we can lean on our allies and like-minded people. For example, in December of last year the number of UN member states who co-authored, together with Russia, the draft resolution on the struggle against glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that promote modern forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, has grown to 55. The Resolution was again passed by the Plenary Session of the 71st General Assembly of the UN in New York on December 19 of last year, with 136 states voting for the document and only two delegations – the USA and Ukraine – voting against.

Friends,

On this red-letter day I would like in particular to note the role of the Ministry’s Council of Veterans which is confidently spearheading the veterans’ movement in Moscow. It is heartening that you remain active participants in academic and academic-practical conferences on the Great Patriotic War organised by the Ministry, the Diplomatic Academy and MGIMO.  The Council’s work to bring up the young generation in the spirit of patriotism is still relevant, including its work to implement the national programme Patriotic Upbringing of the Citizens of the Russian Federation for 2016-2020. Special thanks to Nina Bolsheva, Andrey Petrenko and Gennady Lazutkin who are making a significant contribution the search for war graves. Thanks to their efforts another 35 members of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs who died on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War have been recently identified. With the active participation of the Veterans’ Council, their names have been engraved in the Ministry’s vestibule.

For our part, we continue to do our best to enhance the social protection and pensions of veterans. We appreciate the contribution of Russian missions abroad who raised more than 8 million roubles last year alone. These noble efforts of Russian missions abroad are invaluable in supporting the activities of the Veterans’ Council, and effectively addressing the problems facing the organisation as a whole and its individual members, especially those who badly need human sympathy and material support.

I would like to thank the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for Servicing the Diplomatic Corps which this year decided to allocate 5.7 million roubles to the Ministry’s organisation of veterans, of which 1.2 million for material assistance to mark the 72nd anniversary of Victory and 3 million to care for veterans at the Russian Foreign Ministry Hospital’s preventative treatment department. The remainder of the sum will also be used to give material support to veterans.

We attach great significance to improving the medical care available to you. We have in place an efficient system of delivering medical care to veteran diplomats in our Ministry’s hospital in the village of Yunost. Last year more than 100 people received treatment under the auspices of the Veterans’ Council. The capacity of health resort treatment in the reorganised Ministry organisation Kurort Park Soyuz is expanding.

This year will see the completion of the construction of the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in the village of Malakhovka which will focus on medical rehabilitation, including of war veterans. To this end special rehabilitation programmes are being developed. It is important that in designing the Centre the requirements set for such facilities under the state Accessible Environment programme have been taken into account.

Dear participants in the Great Patriotic War, and home front workers,

Esteemed colleagues, friends,

We remember and will always remember those who have not come back from the front, those who, to use an image of the poet Rimma Kazakova, “shielded life with their bodies.” We remember the civilians who died and the inmates of Nazi concentration camps who were tortured to death. We are glad and proud to perform our sacred duty of caring for the victors who are with us today.

From the bottom of my heart I wish the veterans of the Great Patriotic War and those who were unable to be here today, your relatives and close ones, good health, well-being, a peaceful sky and all the best.

 

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