The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, headed a solemn procession in Minsk, heading from Oktyabrskaya Square to Pobedy Square along Nezavisimosti Avenue. The Heroes of the Soviet Union and veterans of the Great Patriotic War and Armed Forces joined the country’s top ranking officials in the front line of the festive parade. Veterans were also driven in automobiles with special stands available at Pobedy Square for those unable to take part in the march due to poor health. In total, around 80,000 gathered in the centre of the capital.
The President laid a wreath at the Victory Monument, with others laid by state authorities, public associations, diplomatic missions, Great Patriotic War veterans and the clergy. Mr. Lukashenko and all those present commemorated the memory of the dead heroes with a minute’s silence at Pobedy Square.
The Head of State warmly chatted with veterans and heads of diplomatic missions at the solemn event and, as is traditional, shared his impressions with journalists. He believes Belarus will always cherish the memory of its heroism in the Great Patriotic War. The country has already done much in this sphere and continues to do so. There are no neglected memorials in the Republic, with new monuments being erected. The construction of a new Museum of Great Patriotic War History has already been launched in Minsk.
“We are doing all that we can to pay tribute to those who won freedom for us. Look, how many children and young people are on the avenue today. They all understand that their grandfathers and great grandfathers were fighting for victory. It’s priceless to see 5-7 year old boys paying their respects to veterans and honouring the Great Victory,” noted the Head of State.
“Because of that victory, we’ve created and strengthened our state,” added the Belarusian President. “Belarus does more than any other country to preserve this memory.” Mr. Lukashenko especially underlined that it’s necessary to preserve everything that speaks about the deeds of the Belarusian people in that bloody war.
The President believes that Victory Day is a common holiday, uniting Belarusians and Europeans. “Not only Soviet people were fighting and dying. Of course, they played the major role, but there were also anti-fascists and communists in Germany, who struggled to the death against the enemy. There was a mass anti-fascist movement in Western Europe. It was very precious. Especially when we crossed the border and headed for Berlin, we felt that assistance. The liberation army of Yugoslavia fought, alongside other groups, and Poland’s army, with our support and help; it couldn’t have been otherwise,” continued the Head of State.
Speaking of current relations between Belarus and the EU, Mr. Lukashenko stressed, “We have not crossed the Rubicon, but somebody is desperately trying to cross it from the other bank. We’re ready for everything, although we would not like it. We do not seek war, preferring to live in peace, bringing up our children in peace, developing our economy, industry and agriculture and constructing housing instead of ruining it. If they can hear us, they’re welcome, we are open to dialogue. If they do not want to hear us, we will take it into account.”
On May 9th, 1945, the Soviet people won the Great Patriotic War, which lasted 1,418 days and nights and which shaped the destiny of the USSR and the future of world civilisation. Our country faced an extremely heavy blow while the path towards Great Victory began on Belarusian land on June 22nd, 1941.
Belarus was the first among the USSR republics to face a mass attack from fascist invaders. Restraining the fascist troops from the first days of the war, Brest Fortress fought to the last ditch. Unyielding Mogilev withstood a month-long siege. During their occupation, the enemies destroyed 209 cities and towns and 9,200 villages (with over 600 villages’ residents murdered). By the end of the war, the Republic had lost almost a third of its population.