February 15 marks the anniversary of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Today is the 25th anniversary of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. I know that Afghanistan played a significant role in the life of each one of you. Not only in your personal lives, but also in the life of our people as a whole. This had a direct impact on many people, many families. However, we will not deal with military or political components of this now.
I know you have your own organisation and today people are getting together in Moscow. How do you arrange your work with Afghan War veterans? What issues do you have? I believe they are the same as everywhere – primarily social issues and housing, right? Please, tell me.
Reply: There are no special problems. We only have one – regarding the monument…
Vladimir Putin: I know there is a memorial in Lazarevskoye.
Remark: Yes, there is. However, our mayor promised there would be a monument in the city centre.
Vladimir Putin: Have you picked the location?
Reply: Yes, we have. Do you know where the Sputnik cinema used to be? This is in the city centre, near the passenger ship terminal, on Komsomolsky square. There is a monument to Chernobyl veterans there. The Mayor promised to have it up by May 9.
Remark: Will you come to the opening, Mr President? You are invited.
Vladimir Putin: I will think about it. As you may know, we have a parade in Moscow on May 9.
Remark: Of course. But I think this could be earlier.
Vladimir Putin: We will see.
Remark: There are housing problems as well.
Vladimir Putin: I know these are being resolved gradually. Probably not so fast.
Remark: It is all being resolved gradually. Therefore, overall everything is fine.
Vladimir Putin: No acute problems?
Reply: Not really. They get resolved as they appear.
Remark: Mr President, just look what the city is like now. It has changed right before our eyes. It is a pleasure to walk around it. And this is not only our opinion — everyone says so. Thank you very much for Sochi, from all our hearts.
Vladimir Putin: We were on the embankment today. There never was an embankment in Sochi before. That is the way it was arranged historically. But what we have today, I think, makes the city more beautiful. People can go for walks here.
Remark: Yes, this is wonderful.
Remark: One more thing. Today is the 25th anniversary. Primarily this is a day to remember those who did not return from Afghanistan, and those who survived it. We were at the cemetery today and laid flowers to honour all the men who never came back…
We were also invited to this event. Thank you for inviting us here. It is a bit bitter but it’s still a celebration. Thank you.
Remark: Tomorrow we will win.
Vladimir Putin: Sports is sports. We will see. I believe our team did well. In my view, they are of a higher class. We will see. The main games are still ahead, so let us wish them success.