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VE Day act of remembrance at Soviet War Memorial

The Russian Ambassador, the Mayor of Southwark and Simon Hughes MP were among those who gathered with war veterans at the Soviet War Memorial on Friday to mark the 63rd anniversary of VE Day.

VE Day act of remembrance at Soviet War Memorial
The Russian Ambassador addresses the crowd
The Russian Ambassador addresses the crowd
The Russian Ambassador addresses the crowd
Simon Hughes MP
Cllr Bob Skelly
The Mayor of Southwark, Cllr Bob Skelly, laid the first wreath on behalf of the people of the borough
A representative of the Ministry of Defence
A representative of the Ministry of Defence
The Last Post was played and a two-minute silence
The Last Post was played and a two-minute silence observed
Wreath from the republic of Azerbaijan
Wreath from the republic of Azerbaijan

The Soviet War Memorial was erected in 1999 in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park next to the Imperial War Museum to recognise the contribution made by the former Soviet republics to the Allied victory in the Second World War.

"We in the United Kingdom remember with gratitude what we owe to our wartime allies," said Philip Matthews, chair of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund, which organised the ceremony.

"The victory was so important at that time and it continues to be important because it shows how people can be united against common threats and common challenges," said HE Yury Fedotov, the Russian Ambassador to the UK. "That is a good lesson for the future."

Simon Hughes MP said: "I hope that in Russia and in England and in Kyrgyzstan and in all other countries represented here we can always remember that it's as important to teach the issues of our continent as to teach the issues of our nations. That unless we teach internationalism as well as nationalism the future is very bleak.

"And that we would not have won the struggle if we had stood one nation alone. We win struggles because we hold hands across nations. We hold hands with our sisters and brothers and some don't survive, but they do it in a very, very worthy cause, and they do it to give us the freedom that we so richly enjoy."

Wreaths were laid at the memorial by the Mayor, Simon Hughes MP, a representative of the Ministry of Defence, representatives of embassies of former Soviet republics and by many other organisations and individuals.

Bob Wareing MP laid a wreath on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Russia.

At the end of the ceremony a presentation was made to Sir Robert Crawford who retires this year as director of the Imperial War Museum in recognition of his support of the installation and upkeep of the Soviet War Memorial.

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