Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, activists of public patriotic organisations, and combat veterans also laid flowers at the Eternal Flame memorial.
The event continued with a guard of honour company march.
The President also talked with combat veterans taking part in the ceremony.
* * *
Conversation with combat veterans
Roman Cheremukhin: On behalf of the participants in the special military operation please allow me to congratulate you on Defender of the Fatherland Day.
Comrade Supreme Commander-in-Chief,
In your Address to the Federal Assembly, you spoke about the creation of a state fund to support combat veterans, especially disabled veterans. I would like to thank you for supporting the participants in the special military operation. This is a very important decision for all of us.
Vladimir Putin: Comrade Lieutenant Colonel, taking care of those who defend Russia is a sacred duty of the state. This is a natural decision.
I have already said that we will then integrate this fund, which you just mentioned, into a state structure. It will be state-owned anyway; we will just create a structure, I think. We should consult deputies and the Defence Ministry. We will integrate it and make it report directly to the Government. It should be a powerful, effective structure.
And most importantly – I have said this, as you have probably noticed – is that each person, each family should be assigned a separate social worker who will work with people on an individual basis. In any case, I am counting on it very much.
We will definitely ensure that this mechanism functions as it should, so that it helps people.
So it goes without saying.
Then, as the next step, we will make it part of the work with all other categories of people who deserve this and whom the state takes care of.
Roman Cheremukhin: I know a lot of people who fought as part of the Donbass militia, the People's Militia of the Lugansk People's Republic. They are combat veterans of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics. But there are military personnel who left service before the regions joined…
Vladimir Putin: Before they joined Russia.
Roman Cheremukhin: Yes, before the new territories joined Russia. Most often they were discharged due to injury and were not citizens of Russia…
Vladimir Putin: So you want to make sure that this category of veterans is included in this support system, right?
Roman Cheremukhin: Exactly.
Vladimir Putin: Right.
Roman Cheremukhin: The Russian Federation Federal Law On Veterans does not cover them, so they can’t get the benefits that combat veterans and disabled combat veterans are entitled to.
Vladimir Putin: I see.
Thank you for noting this. We will absolutely fix it.
Roman Cheremukhin: It would be great if these people were given the status of a combat veteran or a disabled combat veteran of the Russian Federation so that they can receive all the state assistance they deserve.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, these are people who almost single-handedly fought for the interests of their people, for the interests of their homeland; they fought for their land. Now all of them have become citizens of Russia, and, of course, we must – and will – include them in the list of people who should be and will receive support. Absolutely. Thank you for bringing it up.
Roman Cheremukhin: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Roman Cheremukhin: Once again, happy holiday.
Vladimir Putin: The same to you and all your fellow soldiers.
Roman Cheremukhin: Thank you.
Monk Cyprian: Mr President, let me, on behalf of the older generation of combat veterans and disabled veterans, support the proposal of my comrade-in-arms: these people really deserve it. Regardless of their standing during this entire period, whether they were volunteers, militiamen or police officers, they deserve this status for their courage and heroism.
Vladimir Putin: What difference does it make for the country what standing they had? The main thing is that they served Russia.
Cyprian: One more thing to note as a monk, if you allow me. I would like to thank you for noting in your Address the service of the military clergy; for having awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation to our airborne father, Mikhail Vasilyev, who died near Kherson in November; and for giving instructions following the appeal of our Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to draft a bill, which has now been prepared, on additional guarantees that will affect our priesthood, so that they [military clergy] will be able to receive payments in case of injury or, God forbid, their death.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I have spoken with the Patriarch quite recently. We met and discussed all these issues; His Holiness did raise this issue. Of course, absolutely. And how is a priest who walks under bullets and shells different from all other military personnel? In that sense, there is practically no difference. And of course, we will keep that in mind.
Cyprian: The Defence Ministry will do everything now.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, I have no doubt that this will be the case.
You spoke about my Address. And you know, of course, it is very difficult to listen to everything – it lasts almost two hours – and I would probably have difficulty listening to all this if I had to: it is easier to speak than to listen.
You noted what concerns the priests directly. But you know what I would like to recall now? I can see that the people standing behind are quite young: the day before yesterday, when I delivered my Address, my last words were that the truth is on our side. When I look at these people, I want to add: and the future is definitely ours.
But there can be no future without support for such brave people that represent our army, without support for the clergy. We count on this in our future joint work, too.
Cyprian: Our clergy will not let you down. Thank you for your support.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Goodbye and all the best! Best regards.