One of the more interesting MoD press releases, describing Defence Minister AK Antony's visit to pay homage at Victory Park, the Russian memorial to soldiers killed in The Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. Enjoy!
Ministry of Defence press release: 4th Oct 11
Review of the entire spectrum of defence cooperation and exchange of views on regional and global security situation will take place at the Eleventh Meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation(IRIGC-MTC) to be held in Moscow this evening. The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony who flew into the Russian capital last evening along with a high level delegation will co-chair the meeting with his Russian counterpart Mr AE Serdyukov.
The Indian delegation includes the Defence Secretary Shri Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Defence Production Shri Shekhar Aggarwal, Lt Gen MS Buttar, Air Marshal RK Sharma, Vice Admiral NN Kumar, Chief Controller of Research & Development of DRDO Dr. Avinash Chander, CMD Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Shri Ashok Nayak and DG Acquisition Shri Vivek Rae.
This morning, Shri Antony drove down to the Victory Park where he was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour amidst light drizzle. Shri Antony also laid a wreath at the World War-II Memorial.
Located on and around the Poklonnaya Gora - the hill where Napoleon waited in vain to be given the keys to the city when his troops were surrounding Moscow in 1812 - the park is set in an area steeped in Russian military history.
Victory Park was initially laid out over an area of 98 hectares in 1961, although work on the creation of an architectural memorial was only mooted in the Politburo in 1983. The original plan to level the hill and replace it with a 250-meter high column - was abandoned in the turbulent eighties. The Plan was revived during the tenure of President Yeltsin, when it was considered imperative to get the long-delayed project finished in time for the 50th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). Work on Victory Park was completed in 1995, and is something of ‘a last gasp for the Soviet tradition of monumental triumphal art’.
The central avenue is called "Years of War": It has five terraces, symbolizing the five years of conflict, and there are 1,418 fountains - one for every day. It runs past a memorial chapel, mosque, and synagogue to the circular Victors' Place, which has a triangular obelisk soaring 150 meters and surmounted by a statue of Nike, the Goddess of Victory. Behind this lies the crescent-shaped Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which gives a detailed but staid overview of Russia's appalling loses and eventual victory.
On 9 May, Victory Day in Russia, the park becomes the center of Moscow's celebrations, and as many of the remaining veterans and survivors as can make there way here, along with scores of the younger generations. In Russia the emphasis is on celebration rather than remembrance, and this is one of the most popular public holidays.