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Russian president to lay wreath at Southwark memorial

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to pay a brief visit to Southwark this week when he lays a wreath at the Soviet World War II memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park as part of his State Visit to the UK.

President Putin and his wife are due to arrive in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum shortly after 5pm on Tuesday 24 June, having travelled by car from Westminster Abbey.

The guests will be received by Mayor of Southwark Columba Blango, council leader Nick Stanton and representatives of the Soviet Memorial Trust Fund and Imperial War Museum, as well as the First Secretary of the Russian embassy, Vladimir Molchanov.

The Mayor will then invite the president to lay a wreath at the Memorial.

At 5.15 pm the President and Mrs Putina will leave for Buckingham Palace, where they will meet Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith and Lib-Dem leader Charles Kennedy before attending a state banquet.

The Soviet Memorial Trust Fund was established in May 1997 to erect a memorial in the United Kingdom to commemorate the deaths of 27 million citizens of the former Soviet Union. The fund was supported by the Russian Embassy and all the other Embassies of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The broad-based fund set about raising funds of an equal amount in both Britain and Russia.

The memorial was unveiled in May 1999 by the then defence secretary George Robertson and Russian Ambassador Yuri Fokine in the presence of the Duke of Kent, who is President of the Imperial War Museum and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The memorial was designed by Russian sculptor Sergei Shcherbakov. The granite memorial tablet was made by British stonemason Gary Breeze.

This week's visit by President Putin is the first state visit to the UK by a Russian head of state since Tsar Alexander II came to London in 1874 at the time of the marriage of his daughter to Queen Victoria's son Alfred.

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