The delegation from Saint Petersburg led by Governor Alexander Beglov came to Belarus at a very symbolic moment, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Saint Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov on 1 February, BelTA has learned.
“It is very gratifying that all our good friends who are interested in close cooperation between our two countries are present here [in addition to Alexander Beglov and members of the Saint Petersburg delegation, the meeting was also attended by State Secretary of the Union State Dmitry Mezentsev and Russia's newly appointed Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov],” the Belarusian head of state said as he welcomed the delegation from Saint Petersburg.
According to him, this visit highlights important humanitarian and historical matters. “This is what I would like to start with, although we usually talk about economy and trade,” the president noted.
“I really appreciate that you came to Belarus at such an important moment despite a rather difficult situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He drew attention to how carefully the memory of the Great Patriotic War is preserved in Saint Petersburg and Belarus.
“In the face of frequent attempts to rewrite our history, to downplay the feat of the Soviet people, we believe that the time has come to give truthful assessments of many events and their participants (by the way, that is what we are doing now),” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.
He noted that in the Soviet times, the truth was hushed up either out of fear to offend someone, or out of shame. “We have come to realize that this must be done honestly and openly, even if it can embarrass someone, but at least we did not start those unpleasant pages that some nations are turning today, especially people of Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet space,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to him, Belarusian specialists are now actively working to shed light on a number of events of the Great Patriotic War. “It turns out that many things were downplayed. The deaths of civilians and the Red Army soldiers in concentration camps were understated two, and sometimes even three times, sometimes around 10 times,” the head of state noted.
The president also recalled the tragedy of besieged Leningrad, calling it one of the most terrible episodes of World War II. It cost Leningrad hundreds of thousands of its residents. “A terrible situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He added that he had discussed this topic with Russian President Vladimir Putin on several occasions.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Saint Petersburg recently marked the 78th anniversary of breaking the siege of Leningrad. “The joint exposition “Symbols of Besieged Leningrad” that will go on display at the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History today is an opportune and important initiative,” the Belarusian leader said.