Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with an entourage of about 300 ministers, advisors and journalists, arrived today (Monday 25 June 2012) on an official state visit to Israel
. After being greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, they departed for Netanya to attend the inauguration ceremony of the memorial to the half million Jews who fought in the Red Army against the Nazis in World War II.
The ceremony was attended by President Shimon Peres, FM Liberman, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and other ministers and senior officials from both sides.
President Peres and President Putin at the dedication of the
Victory Monument National Site to Commemorate
the Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany (Photo: GPO)
President Putin said that, "I am thankful for everything that has been done to commemorate those who died during World War II," and added: "I've seen a lot of monuments around the world but this will be a permanent reminder of the heroism of an entire generation that fought and sacrificed itself for all mankind. The Holocaust is history's blackest page and such acts cannot be tolerated. The Red Army put an end to those atrocities."
The idea for a monument to the Jewish soldiers originated two years ago when Prime Minister Netanyahu proposed it to President Putin during a visit to Moscow. The monument, known as the Victory Monument, was created as a joint initiative of Israel and Russia and implemented by a committee with members from both countries.