President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. Let me greet everyone once more, the officials, veterans, and search group representatives, and remind you of what you all know very well of course, namely, that we are meeting here in the run-up to a big event – the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
There is no need to say what this event means for our country and its existence as an independent state, and perhaps also for the existence of many of the Soviet Union’s peoples as ethnic groups, because we know the Nazis’ policy of physical extermination of entire peoples. I think that the Russian people and many other peoples of the Soviet Union would have met the same fate in the end, through various means, but the sad fact is that this unbelievably cruel goal would have been achieved. This did not happen thanks to the courage, selflessness and patriotic devotion of those who defended their country back then. Today, we speak of the veterans.
Of course, I must say thanks too to those who strengthen this memory and give it tangible form. The Governor spoke of how you recently raised from a riverbed a vehicle [together with a soldier who was killed during the war]. The search group members will tell us about their work today, about the individual people they find. Even if you are not able to identify the people, as I said in my remarks earlier, we carry out a reburial ceremony and do so with military honours.
This is important of course not for those who were killed and are no longer with us, but for ourselves and for the future generations. In this sense, addressing the search group members now, your work is not just about history but is also about strengthening our country today and about creating good conditions for Russia’s future development.
Let me end my remarks here. Once again, I say thank you to you all and wish you my best wishes on the upcoming holiday.
It will be my pleasure to hear from you now. If you have comments or proposals regarding the work of the state authorities, the regional and municipal authorities, we will not only do our best to listen but also to make the appropriate response.