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Address of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko at wreath-laying ceremony in Victory Square

9 May 2017
Dear veterans,

Dear compatriots and foreign guests,

Our history is rich in milestone dates. 9 May 1945 is a special day. It is the Day of the Great Victory. This victory was achieved by the Soviet people in the most dreadful war, the cruelest war against the fascism.

The salvation of the world from the fascism came at tremendous costs. During the war Belarus lost its every third resident. Over 200,000 people were killed in the Trostenets death camp near Minsk alone. How many people were killed in the burnt villages and destroyed cities?!

The country suffered an irreparable material damage. Thousands of companies, schools, museums, libraries and churches were destroyed. We lost more than a half of our national heritage.

The Nazi crimes cannot be erased from the memory. Everybody should know this, including those who are making the attempts to rewrite the history today, those who are trying to take the Great Victory away from our nation. This must not be allowed. We will never stop admiring the courage of our countrymen who went through the hellfire of war. They did not kneel before the invaders. Both the old and the young rose up against the enemy. Hundreds of thousands of partisans and underground fighters killed the enemy in every part of the Belarusian land. Such a powerful resistance became a real contribution to the defeat of the fascism and the liberation of Belarus.

From the first days of the war, the sons and daughters of Belarus heroically fought at the war fronts. The glorious pages in the war chronicle were made by the soldiers of the border outposts, the immortal garrison of the Brest fortress, Mogilev defenders, the underground fighters of Minsk, Orsha, and other cities, participants of the legendary Operation Bagration and other major battles of the Great Patriotic War. Here, in the heart of the Minsk hero city, in the Victory Square, lay the capsules with the soil from the hero cities: Moscow, Leningrad, Smolensk, Tula, Stalingrad, Kiev, Sevastopol, Kerch, Odessa, Murmansk, and Novorossiysk. Our countrymen took part in the battles for each of them. They showed bravery and courage in fierce battles for the liberation of Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Bucharest, Vienna and Berlin.

The Motherland highly appreciated the contributions of the Belarusians to the common victory. The highest award - the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union – was awarded to more than 440 of our countrymen, and orders and medals to more than 300,000. Many received their awards posthumously, unfortunately.

Eternal glory to the heroes! Eternal glory to those who gave their lives for the freedom of the Fatherland! In these tragic moments let’s observe a minute of silence in memory of those people.

(A minute of silence)

Dear friends,

The Nazis turned our blossoming land into ruins. In order to rise from the ashes, Belarus had to fight yet another enormous battle, that time with the devastation and famine. Dedication and heroism of the people, the unity and fraternal assistance from the Soviet Union republics made the seemingly impossible task a reality. In a short period of time the country rebuilt factories, built new ones, set up agricultural enterprises, built schools, universities, libraries, theaters and museums. The generation of the victors created a powerful economic and cultural potential. This became the basis for the further development of our country.

We are happy that our dear war and labor veterans are among us today. We will never forget what you have done for the homeland. Your achievements have forever taken the most honorable place in the national history. You are an example for all the generations of the Belarusians. Nothing is worthier than a sacrificial feat in the name of liberty and independence.

The international tensions are increasing today, the idea of world domination is being revived. Armed conflicts are raging in different parts of the world. Humanity has come to the brink of a new big war.

There are threats to Belarus. We see military arsenals build up near our borders. Literally next door, in the former Soviet republics, they set up military bases, conduct combat drills. Using our domestic fifth column they are making attempts to destabilize the situation inside the country.

Vigilance and security of the state are of particular significance today. We need to cherish peace and harmony in our home. We must stay united and firm, like our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers during the time of severe ordeals. Then nobody will dare to test our strengths. We must preserve peace on our land in the name of the memory of those hundreds of thousands of the soldiers who were killed on the fronts, one third of the population that we lost. It will be the greatest gift to not only living veterans but, most importantly, to those who gave their lives for everything that we have today.

Our country has never demonstrated aggression and never will. We have shown that Belarus is a peaceful and friendly state. This does not mean, however, that it will not be able to defend itself. We do not need what belongs to others and we will not give away what belongs to us. This is what our heroic forefathers taught us, and we will always remember about this.

I wish you happiness and peace, dear compatriots and guests of our Belarus!

Happy Victory Day!
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