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May 9, 2009,The Kremlin, Moscow

Speech at Reception in Honour of 64th Anniversary of Victory in Great Patriotic War
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Dear Great Patriotic War veterans, dear colleagues and friends,

Today is a special day for our country, a day with very joyous, bright and at the same time very bitter memories.

May 9, 1945 will forever remain the closing day of the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. In calling this a Great Victory, we pay tribute to the great deeds of our people, to the unswerving spiritual force with which our people defended their right to freedom, to independence, to live, to raise children and grandchildren, and to pass on to them the spiritual values and traditions that have animated our nation for centuries.

The moral force that both our army and the Russian people demonstrated was achieved thanks to infinite love for our Motherland and by drawing on their own values and ideals concerning a free peaceful life. All the power of the Nazi war machine was powerless in this regard. And even the most tragic events of the war, the brutal blockade and deprivation that our people suffered, did not break their will nor their faith in what is right and in the future of their Motherland.

Our contemporary army is being established on this same moral foundation. It must be strong and highly professional. It must be committed to the ideals of peace and justice. The military parade which just took place demonstrated precisely these qualities. When our troops and our Armed Forces marched, when our military hardware drove past, I am sure that everyone of us here in this room was proud of our country.

Today the memory of the Great Patriotic War remains very important. I am convinced that new generations of our citizens must know how much blood and tears were shed during this period and that May 1945 gave our country not only the great joy of victory, but also a heavy responsibility for the fate of the world. Such responsibility includes responding to contemporary threats which unfortunately continue to affect peaceful people.

World War II really is the main lesson of the 20th century. Our people paid a very high price for Victory. That is why we so dearly want a peaceful future for our planet, why we value calm and stable human life and the important principles of international security. We have strengthened these principles and will continue to do so in collaboration with other states and the international community, and create a general guarantee for lasting peace in the world.

Dear friends, time marches inexorably on but in Russia May 9 will remain a sacred date for people of all generations and ages. The 65th anniversary of Victory is not far off, and of course we must do everything possible to celebrate it with dignity, as befits the descendants of the winners.

I would like to make the first toast to you, dear veterans, to peace and prosperity in our land, to a Great Victory. Happy Victory Day!

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