Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko together with Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the ceremony to unveil the Rzhev Monument to the Soviet Soldier.
During the ceremony, the heads of state talked to veterans of the Great Patriotic War, and then laid flowers at the foot of the monument. After that, the participants of the event observed a minute of silence to honor the memory of the fallen heroes.
“War always means blood, horror and death. In that inhuman, cruel reality there were the breakthroughs that came at an incredible price. Rzhev was such a win-or-die battle, preventing the enemy from advancing to the capital of our Motherland and our whole great country. Here the ground burned, the stone melted and the armor crumbled, but the Soviet soldier would not surrender. He would engage in a fierce close-quarters combat when he ran out of bullets. He bled in the snow in the bitter cold. He was dying but he would never surrender,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state noted that hundreds of thousands of heroes were killed near Rzhev, and for each of them it was the last inch of their native land. So was the Brest Fortress, Neva Bridgehead near Leningrad, Buinichi field near Mogilev or Mamayev Mound in Stalingrad for other soldiers,” he added.
“Today we are opening a monument to the soldiers, among whom were representatives of all the peoples of the Soviet Union. We pay them our respects, we venerate their memory. As long as we build monuments, as long as we come to the monuments, we will not go to war, we will avoid such terrible tragedies. As soon as we forget the way to these holy places, a war will certainly follow. This is the main point why we celebrate these important holidays,” Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention.
“The unveiling of this monument, the celebrations in the Russian capital, the commemorative meeting in the Brest Fortress, the Victory Day parade in Minsk showed once again that these are our common victory, memory, and glory which we will continue to preserve carefully. This is the true link connecting the times and generations. This is the invisible thread that unites the hearts of all the nations who took part in that horrible war, first of all, Belarusians and Russians. With deep gratitude, we bow to the courage and endurance of those who gave their lives for the freedom of the current and future generations,” the Belarusian head of state noted.
The President is confident that the Rzhev Monument to the Soviet Soldier will always be a symbol of the strong friendship between Russia and Belarus, a place of pride and veneration of the deed of the ancestors. “We will not let anyone downplay the significance of the Great Victory, distort the truth about the events of those times, and whitewash Nazism. Or else such a tragedy might happen again. Belarus and Russia, that paid for peace with lives of millions of their residents, stand united in this goal,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also addressed veterans of the Great Patriotic War. He noted that they gave the whole world an example of unparalleled bravery, patriotism, love of freedom, and fortitude. “We bow down before your immortal deed, valor, heroism, and loyalty to your Motherland!” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He thanked the creators of this grandiose monument: the leadership of the Russian Federation, the Standing Committee of the Union State, the Government of Tver Oblast, the Russian Military Historical Society, the creative team and all the citizens who took part in the project.
The President is convinced that the Monument to the Soviet Soldier near Rzhev will always be a symbol of unbreakable friendship between Russia and Belarus, a place of shared pride and a place to pay tribute to our grandfathers and great-grandfathers.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also took part in the Garden of Memory international campaign. The presidents of Belarus and Russia planted spruce seedlings. The campaign kicked off in March 2020. It provides for planting 27 million trees in Russia and other CIS member states to commemorate the victims of the Great Patriotic War.
One of the volunteers of the campaign offered the heads of state to wrap it up in the Brest Fortress on 22 June 2021 – on the day marking 80 years since the start of the war – by planting trees in honor of the defenders of the fortress. Aleksandr Lukashenko supported this idea. “We will be looking forward to it,” he said.
Then the presidents visited the branch of the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War dedicated to the Battle of Rzhev where they were taken on a brief tour.