Antony pays homage at Russian WW-II memorialOctober 4th, 2011 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, Oct 4 (IANS) Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday began his three-day visit to Russia by paying homage at the Victory Park here to defence personnel who lost their lives during World War-II.
Antony is here to co-chair the 11th meeting of the inter-governmental commission on military technical cooperation with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov.
Antony, who arrived here with a large high-level delegation, drove to Victory Park, where he was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour amidst a light drizzle, according to Indian defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar, who is part of Antony’s delegation.
The Indian defence minister laid a wreath at the World War-II memorial as a mark of respect to the departed soldiers.
Located on and around the Poklonnaya Gora - the hill where Napoleon waited in vain to be given the keys to the city when his troops were surrounding Moscow in 1812 - the park is set in an area steeped in Russian military history.
Victory Park was initially laid out over an area of 98 hectares in 1961, although work on the creation of an architectural memorial was only mooted in the Politburo in 1983.
The original plan to level the hill and replace it with a 250-meter high column was abandoned in the turbulent 1980s.
The plan was revived during the tenure of President Boris Yeltsin, when it was considered imperative to get the long-delayed project finished in time for the 50th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).
Work on the Victory Park was completed in 1995, and is something of “a last gasp for the Soviet tradition of monumental triumphal art”.
The central avenue is called “Years of War”: It has five terraces, symbolizing the five years of conflict, and there are 1,418 fountains - one for every day.
It runs past a memorial chapel, mosque, and synagogue to the circular Victors’ Place, which has a triangular obelisk soaring 150 meters and surmounted by a statue of Nike, the Goddess of Victory.
Behind this lies the crescent-shaped Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which gives a detailed but staid overview of Russia’s appalling loses and eventual victory.
On May 9, observed as Victory Day in Russia, the park becomes the centre of Moscow’s celebrations, and many of the remaining veterans and survivors make there way here, along with several youth.
In Russia the emphasis is on celebration rather than remembrance, and this is one of the most popular public holidays.
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