The President thanked the veterans for their contribution to building relations between Russia and China and also thanked everyone who took part in restoring the Russian Military Cemetery.
The cemetery, located in Lushun, is the biggest foreign cemetery in China. Buried here are more than 20,000 Russian Army soldiers and officers who died in military clashes in 1898–1904, and in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War. After 1945, soldiers killed while Soviet Army units were temporarily deployed on the Liaodong Peninsula were also buried here, alongside the old Russian cemetery, and Soviet servicemen killed during the 1950–1953 Korean War were buried here too.
Mr Medvedev also visited exhibitions from the Armed Forces Museum and the St Petersburg Museum of Military Costume on display at the memorial to Soviet soldiers. The exhibitions, devoted to the events of the Great Patriotic War, showcase photographs, weapons, and military uniforms from that period. The photographs capture events such as the defence of Leningrad and Moscow, and the taking of Berlin.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Veterans, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you today. This is a special year and it is a special occasion to be able to stand with you here at the site where we fought the invaders together in the battles that took place here.
Today, we remember those who sacrificed their lives to restore China’s independence and territorial integrity. Our countries cherish this memory of the mutual help and support that our peoples gave each other in the fight against a common enemy.
Starting from this year, our country observes a special memorable date – September 2 – the day marking the end of World War II.
As you know, in May this year, President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao took part in the celebrations organised in Moscow to mark the 65th anniversary of victory. Mr Hu met with our veterans on that occasion. Today, I pay tribute to the memory of our compatriots and their Chinese friends, who fought for China’s freedom.
I just visited the memorial to Soviet soldiers. It is very good to see how it has been restored, and I am grateful to our Chinese colleagues for their help and support. This memorial symbolises our friendship and the results achieved through the Soviet Army’s victorious action with the support of their Chinese partners, which ultimately paved the way for ending World War II.
Walking around the museum before, I looked over the exhibition, and it takes us back to those days, of course, opening various pages of the past through the memories captured in the photographs and items on display. All of this stirs many emotions. It is extremely important that young people today have the chance to see these exhibits and learn about the events of those times, all the more so as for Russia, as for China, the memory of these events is something we hold sacred.
The Soviet people lost an enormous number of their fellow citizens during the Great Patriotic War, almost 30 million people, and the Chinese people also suffered immense hardship during the years of occupation. Tens of millions of Chinese perished from hunger and wounds during the period from 1937 to 1945. Nothing can ever replace these lives lost, and so it is our duty to remember the events of those years.
We must work together to preserve this memory for future generations and prevent attempts to distort history. We must defend the truth about that war, all the more so as there are forces that seek to alter this historic truth. It is for this reason that during the Chinese President’s visit to Moscow in May, and during my visit now, tomorrow in Beijing, we will approve declarations setting out our assessment of the events of those times.
Once again, I want to thank you all most sincerely for all that you have done, for your immense contribution to our peaceful future, and I want to express my confidence that the friendship between our peoples, a friendship sealed by the wartime events, will stand everlasting, for the benefit of the generations to come.
Dmitry Medvedev: Friendship with China is the Russian Federation’s strategic choice, and it is a choice sealed by the blood spilt during those wartime days.
Once more, I thank everyone who helped to restore the memorial. This really is a very important event. It is excellent to see the memorial in such a good state today. This creates the foundation for ensuring that the memory of those events really will not fade.
I wish all of the veterans here good health and the opportunity to meet again on many future occasions, so as to remember those days, and simply to talk and spend time with each other, for this is very important too.