President Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, colleagues.
Our work today is coming to a close. In summing up our discussions today, I would like to note a few principally important moments in our preparations for the celebrations.
First is the information component. I think we should be a lot more active – and this was something that also came through in what today’s speakers said, and in the questions that were asked – we should be more active in the international information field. We should inform people and emphasise the Soviet Union’s decisive contribution to the defeat of fascism. We should also speak out about the true scale of the Nazis’ crimes and the terrible price our country and our people paid during this war.
Another set of issues is the importance of our victory in the war for modern history, and this is also something we talked about today. This is especially important given that there really are still attempts made to rehabilitate the Nazis and revise the history of the Second World War.
We should not forget that it is precisely ideas of racial and religious superiority, which serve as cover for ambitions of world domination, that create fertile soil for new threats. Everything is interlinked. By this I mean the modern threats of international terrorism, separatism and extremism that bring the world violence, cruelty and death. This lesson of the war still holds true and is extremely relevant and important today.
I repeat once again that the events of the Great Patriotic War form the pillars of our great history and are an inexhaustible source of unity between the generations and victorious traditions in educating our youth. It is on this foundation that we should build our information campaign and organise our cultural, educational and patriotic work in the country.
Another important aspect is war memorials. Here I am referring to restoring existing memorials and building new ones, as well as increasing efforts to protect memorials from vandalism, which, unfortunately, still occurs.
More work also needs to be done on documenting military burial sites and finding and burying the remains of fallen soldiers.
I am certain that the effectiveness of these measures depends directly on how well organised work is at federal level and in the regions, on the support that search groups receive in the regions and on what is done to encourage the formation of new detachments and groups working in this area.
Ensuring worthy celebrations of the 60th anniversary of victory is a vital national task, for this is a major international event and a common holiday for everyone who fought against fascism. During these celebrations, Moscow must become the capital for veterans of the Great Patriotic War and World War II.
I think we must ensure the broadest possible coverage of the events that will take place in Moscow and in other regions of the country.
It is very important that we not let this celebration become just a one-day event. We must continue working actively after Victory Day is over, keeping the spirit alive and building on the experience we have gained. The “Victory” organising committee has plans for long-term work – activities to take place over several years. We also outlined these activities today. They include building a military memorial cemetery in the Mytishchi District and preparing a fundamental multi-volume work on the history of the war.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the veterans’ organisations that have taken a most active part in preparing the celebrations, and also thank the regions, and the public and religious organisations whose representatives are here today and who have joined in our work together. And, of course, I want to thank all the members of the organising committee, which has been working since 2000 and has already done a great amount to ensure that the country celebrates this anniversary in a fitting manner.
Finally, one of the most important issues that we discussed here today was specific social support measures for our war veterans. It is our duty to remember the needs of each of our veterans and to reach out to every one of our citizens whose life was linked to the Great Patriotic War.
Our people, the peoples of Russia, have always had in their blood this tradition of special love for our Motherland and a willingness to protect it and sacrifice themselves for it if necessary. This has always been the case throughout our great history. Today we also have many worthy people, people who have made an immense contribution to defending, rebuilding and developing our country. The state should, of course, and will, ensure that these people get special attention. At the same time, amongst these most worthy and deserving people are those who should get even greater attention – they are, of course, the war veterans and war invalids, people who more than others risked their own lives and health and suffered during the war.
We know that these people, our veterans, are part of the older generation. They are all over 70 now, and some of them are over 80. They are our fathers and mothers, our grandfathers and grandmothers, and the attention we give them is also of immense educational value, for it is not for nothing that it is said that how we treat our parents is how our children will treat us.
A lot has been done lately to provide support for veterans of the Great Patriotic War. However, given that we are preparing to celebrate not just another Victory Day, but are on the eve of a major date – the 60th anniversary of the Soviet people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War – I would like to inform you that I have taken the following decision: aside from the social support measures already announced for Great Patriotic War veterans and invalids, as from May 1, 2005, Great Patriotic War veterans and invalids, concentration camp inmates who were minors and residents of blockaded Leningrad who were awarded the medal “For the Defence of Leningrad”, will receive a monthly payment of 1000 roubles; military personnel called up for service during the period from June 22, 1941 to September 3, 1945, and who served in units not part of the active army, widows of soldiers and people awarded the decoration “Resident of Blockaded Leningrad”, will receive a monthly payment of 500 roubles, as will the former adult inmates of fascist concentration camps.
This will mean that, as from May 1, 2005, the average pension for Great Patriotic War invalids will come to 3650 roubles, for Great Patriotic War veterans it will come to 3600 roubles, and for residents of blockaded Leningrad who received the medal “For the defence of Leningrad”, the average pension will come to 3650 roubles.
I would like to draw your attention to the following: taking into account today’s decision, the average income for Great Patriotic war invalids and veterans will come to 8,400 roubles a month. This figure will a bit less for the other categories. But by way of comparison, I would like to point out the average wage in industry in Russia today is 7,400 roubles a month, and in the national economy as a whole it is 6830 roubles a month.
But I think that the decisions taken today, and the other recent decisions, are justified, given the important anniversary we are celebrating. Today I will prepare the corresponding Presidential Decree, and it will be signed tomorrow. And I will keep a check on the situation to ensure that these payments are indexed accordingly.
In conclusion, I want to emphasise once again that the approaching anniversary of victory involves not just a great organisational responsibility but also a great moral responsibility. I ask everyone here to put their soul into this work and to show understanding for the full importance of the tasks we have before us.
And now I would like to fulfil a pleasant mission and award high state decorations to the veterans here today, people who helped achieve victory and showed through their example not only how to love and defend their Motherland but also how to live a worthy life. They fought in the frontlines and were decorated for their acts, and after the war they helped to raise Oryol from the ruins and are now very active in the region’s veterans’ organisations and in carrying out patriotic work.
It is my pleasure to award the Order of Friendship to Nikolai Rusanov, the chairman of the Regional Council of War, Labour, Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agency Veterans, and also to award the medal “For Services to the Fatherland” second degree, to Vasily Klyukovsky, a member of this council’s presidium. (Presents the awards) Dear colleagues and friends, I would like to thank all of you for your work. All the best.