Liudmila Alekseeva: An open letter to the President of the Russian Federation on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of Victory Day

posted 19 Apr 2015, 20:29 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Apr 2015, 20:30 ]
13 April 2015 

By Liudmila Alekseeva, chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group

Respected Vladimir Vladimirovich!

This year we shall mark the 70th anniversary of the ending of the Great Patriotic War.

The event, ever since 1945, is celebrated throughout the world, and especially so in our country. No one experienced such a cost with so many victims as did our people, nor previously had we during our more than 1000 year-long history. There is hardly a family among us which did not lose someone during those four years. My father, Mikhail Lvovich Slavinskii died at the front. Doubtless your family also suffered losses.

The 9th May 1945 was the happiest day in my long life. Not only I but everyone was happy: the war had ended. That day I and my girlfriends ran about the streets of Moscow, congratulating all whom we met, and they congratulated us. Towards evening, returning home, I met a woman with a tear-stained face. She replied to my congratulations with the words: ‘I am also rejoicing in our victory, but I am celebrating on my own. My husband and my three sons…’ That was how we won that victory!

Vladimir Vladimirovich, it would be very appropriate if, in this anniversary year, we celebrated 9th May not only with a parade in honour of the victory but also as a commemoration – by the whole country and all of its people - of the many millions who died. We should pay homage to those to whom first and foremost we owe that victory – those who gave their lives for it. Let our 70th anniversary be remembered by the whole world not only for its celebratory parade but also for our grieving together for the dead.

I have a suggestion: during the parade, ask all who are in the square and all who are listening (the whole country will be watching and listening to the transmission) to stand in memory of those who died. At your call, millions of people, not only in Red Square but across the country, will stand and bare their heads. All will be united through a shared understanding.

After all we all take pride in the victory, and we know what it cost our people.

I, of course, shall be watching the parade on television and, Vladimir Vladimirovich, I very much hope to hear your call for the whole people to remember those who gave their lives for the victory. I am sure that this will mark the start of a good tradition for the commemorations on 9 May for a great many years to come.

Liudmila Alekseeva, Chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Translated by Mary McAuley