The ceremony to commemorate the defenders of the Fatherland was attended by the Great Patriotic War veterans, officers of the Russian Armed Forces, military school cadets, and participants in the Bolshaya Peremena contest for schoolchildren.
The President also laid flowers at the hero cities’ memorial plaques and the monument to the Cities of Military Glory.
The guard of honour marched in front of the memorial.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Citizens of Russia,
Today we are marking a sorrowful and tragic date: the Great Patriotic War began 80 years ago today.
The great-grandchildren of those who stood up in defence of our Fatherland in the first minutes after the treacherous Nazi attack in 1941 have grown up, but this day, June 22, continues to evoke indignation and sorrow in the hearts of all generations, reviving pain for the mangled lives of millions of our people, because the trials they withstood in those terrible years have been forever embedded in our memory.
It was not enough for the enemy to take our land. It came to destroy our people and to turn the survivors into slaves without a national language, traditions of their forefathers or their culture.
History had never seen genocide on this scale before. Our blood still runs cold when we recall the methods used by the Nazis and their accomplices to implement their deadly plans and the atrocities they committed against peaceful civilians – the elderly, women and children.
A response to that hateful, ferocious evil was the spiritual unity, solidarity and mass heroism of the Soviet people. People’s belief in the triumph of justice and in our Victory had unfathomable power. In the name of liberating our Fatherland, they withstood all the trials and tribulations, sorrow, suffering, and death on the frontline and in the rear, rising to the heights of courage and sacrifice in the flames of battles and during debilitating labour at the factories and plants. And they attained a truly Great Victory.
It is impossible to forget this, and it is no surprise that the Eternal Flame has become the symbol of our memory. Decades go by, but people of all ages never stop laying flowers at our military memorials, both on working days and during holidays, including here, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexander Garden.
For many people, the Unknown Soldier is a family member, a grandfather or a great-grandfather who is missing in action, a fellow soldier, a loved one, and all those who perished in battles or from hunger, cold and wounds.
Standing here by the Eternal Flame, we bow to all those who have not returned from the war and to the veterans who are no longer with us. Our thoughts and feelings are with them on this day of Memory and Sorrow.
I am certain that we will preserve this memory and this truth about the war. We are doing and will continue doing everything in our power so that our country, our Fatherland remains a great and mighty power, and will always be grateful to the victors who stepped into eternity and who gave us, their future generations the legacy of life and peace.
Eternal glory to those who fell defending freedom and independence of our Fatherland.
I declare a minute of silence.
(Minute of silence.)