Vladimir Putin:”I would like to whole-heartedly thank Slovenia and Slovenians !”

Vladimir Putin and President of Slovenia Borut Pahor took part in a memorial ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of a Russian chapel built near the Vršič Pass in memory of Russian soldiers who died there during the First World War.

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Vladimir Putin, all photos by Marijan Zlobec

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: “Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, friends. Thank you very much for inviting us.

I am very glad to be visiting once again friendly Slovenia, where guests from Russia always find a very warm welcome. Visiting this place, the St Vladimir Russian Chapel is a moving experience for me and for all my compatriots.

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It was erected one hundred years ago to the day to honour the memory of Russian soldiers who tragically lost their lives here during the First World War. The fact that it was erected by Russian soldiers in memory of their fallen comrades is remarkable.

It is an established fact that about 10,000 Russian soldiers died in this prisoner of war camp alone from strenuous work, hunger and deprivation.

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When I came here and saw this modest chapel I thought: “Among those who built this modest structure, who could have thought that in one hundred years we will gather here to remember those who fell in the First World War?” I do not think that any of them could have imagined it.

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Nevertheless, we are here today, which is due to the representatives of various confessions, including the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as the Muslim community. Credit also goes to many generations of Kranjska Gora residents and Slovenians.

I would like to whole-heartedly thank Slovenia and Slovenians on behalf of Russia and on my personal behalf for what you are doing to preserve the memory of the victims that all of us, including Russia, sacrificed for the victory in the First, as well as the Second World War.

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I say it again: Thank you, Slovenia!

The road across the pass was built by Russian soldiers, and is called the Russian Road for a reason. This chapel has become a symbol of friendship between the people of Russian and Slovenia, a symbol of our shared commitment to peace, cooperation and prosperity.

Today, the President of Slovenia and I will unveil in Ljubljana a monument to Russian and Soviet soldiers who fell in Slovenia during the two world wars. It will remind us of the dedication of the Russian soldiers and the Soviet Union’s decisive contribution to the liberation of Europe from Nazism, the immortal exploit of the victory generation. This monument will reflect our common principled opposition to any attempts to distort or rewrite history and justify crimes that had cost lives to millions of people.

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It is for this reason that together we will continue awareness-raising efforts, primarily among the younger generation. It is important that we not only remember the horrors of war, but work together to promote mutual understanding, trust and security in Europe and across the world.

Today, during talks with the President of Slovenia, we will not fail to outline new promising projects to develop our relations across the board.

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I would like to conclude by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Slovenian authorities, members of the Slovenia-Russia Friendship Association and other civil society groups, as well as all Slovenians for their caring attitude towards our shared history and remembering Russians who were involved in the tragic events that took place on Slovenia land.

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I would like to thank you for the sincere commitment and efforts to strengthen European unity, which should serve as a foundation for the future of Europe.

Thank you.”

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