May 9, 2017
After the reception, Vladimir Putin met with Slovenian veterans to congratulate them on Victory Day. “We are very grateful for what you are doing at home to honour the memory of Russian soldiers,” Vladimir Putin said.
The President also spoke with members of the Aleksandrov Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army who were invited to the reception. Mr Putin congratulated its members and leader Colonel Gennady Sachenyuk on the holiday.
* * *
Speech at the Victory Day reception
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear veterans, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
Let me extend my heartfelt congratulations on Victory Day!
This is a holiday of pride, joy and grief. These sincere, unabashed feelings unite millions of people, all generations.
There is no other day when we all have such a strong sense of the value of life and the importance of love for the Fatherland, when remembrance of the war becomes universal and extremely important both for those who fought and laboured on the home front, for those who were born after the Victory and for very young people, for our children and grandchildren living in the 21st century.
This sacred holiday is celebrated by all of Russia. And it is clear why.
It is not just the many millions of victims which our people sacrificed on the altar of Victory. If our country would have succumbed to the terrible tragedy and, like many other European countries, suffered defeat, a totally different fate would have awaited us than the enslaved countries of the European continent. It was not only a question of the existence of our country, it was a question of the existence of our people as an ethnos.
And we are well aware of this from the documents of the Nazi party and the fascist state which are still stored in archives. Those who were not used for slave labour would have been subject either to physical elimination, plain and simple, or resettlement to remote regions without any infrastructure where they would have been doomed to gradual extinction.
This is what we must always remember when we talk about the truth of the Second World War, the Great Patriotic War, when we speak about the victims which our people sacrificed on the altar of Victory, as I already mentioned. This is something we must never forget. This is the most important thing.
This is why we reach out to veterans on Victory Day. The most heartfelt congratulations and words of gratitude are extended to you. The flowers, gifts, concerts and fireworks, these are all for you.
We revere your valour and self-sacrifice, modesty and strength of spirit. We revere your entire generation which steadfastly endured such an arduous, long, rough and heroic road to Victory.
The defeat of Nazism was an epochal event for the entire world and for our country – a great celebration of liberation from tragedy, death and destruction, a day of triumph for a people who defeated a brazen, treacherous and brutal enemy, a people who paid an enormous price in blood and lives to determine the outcome of the deadliest war and bring it to a victorious close.
Our gratitude to the generation of victors is immeasurable. We will always keep faith with your covenants and your heroic legacy, and we will pass down this inheritance to our grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Thank you. Thank you for everything!
I would like to propose a toast to the victors, to peace in our land, to great Russia!