To the courage of Leningrad residents: on the day of the 76th anniversary of a complete liberation of Leningrad from the blockade

      A festive occasion dedicated to the 76th anniversary of a complete liberation of Leningrad from the Nazi blockade was held on January 26 at the monument with a symbolic name “To the courage of Leningrad residents” in the Blockades garden square on the Courage Square.
    A monument “To the courage of Leningrad residents who defended our city” was opened in the Blockades garden square exactly 2 years ago. Residents of the besieged Leningrad were the initiators of its appearance, and a project created by sculptor Yevgeny Rotanov and architect Leonid Kopylovsky was implemented by charity foundation of Pogosyan Grachya Misakovich.

    The monument took its rightful place among the memorable places of St. Petersburg dedicated to the tragic pages of the city during the Great Patriotic War, and became long-awaited for all the inhabitants of the besieged Leningrad, who had been waiting for its appearance for more than 40 years.
     That year when the 75th anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War was celebrated and that was declared (by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin) to be the Year of Remembrance and Glory, the administration of the Vyborg region together with Pogosyan charity fund decided to hold a joint solemn action on the eve of the main holiday of our city  the Day of a complete Leningrad liberation from the Nazi blockade.

      On January 26, hundreds of people: representatives of the executive and legislative branches of St. Petersburg, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS member states, the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly, the Western Military District, the St. Petersburg Association for International Cooperation, the representative office of the Russian Foreign Ministry in St. Petersburg, as well as those of various public organizations, schoolchildren, citizens and guests of St. Petersburg gathered in the Blockade Square. Veterans of the Great Patriotic War as well as residents of the besieged Leningrad were, of course, among the most honorable participants.

     The participants honored the memory of all those who died during the years of the blockade and during the Great Patriotic War with a minute of silence. And then, with blessing of Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga Barsanuphius, Priest of the Cathedral of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God Alexander Gutnik together with the clergy of the St. Petersburg Diocese held a memorial service for the Leningrad residents and city defenders who died during the blockade. 

     Yuri Voronov’s poem “Hundredth Day”, which was very movingly read by Matvey Kochetov (pupil of the “Obraz” Theater Studio) deeply touched the audience...  
Head of administration of the Vyborg district, Valery Garnets, expressed his gratitude to everyone who participated in a creation of the monument and noted that the monument would remind subsequent generations of the feat that the defenders of Leningrad and the townspeople performed.

     - “I have read somewhere that the number of inhabitants who died during the bombing of Nuremberg and Dresden does not even make up half the victims that Leningrad suffered during the blockade,”  mentioned Valery Nikolaevich. He also conveyed congratulations on behalf of the Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Dmitrievich Beglov, on the 76th anniversary of a complete liberation of Leningrad from the blockade and wished everyone a peaceful sky, happiness and health.

     The chairman of St. Petersburg organization “Residents of the besieged Leningrad” Elena Tikhomirova addressed the audience on behalf of all Leningraders who survived the blockade of the city.
- I’m asking everyone, in particular our generation, so as not to distort our Victory, so as not to distort the victory not only of our city, but also that of our country: remember those who did not come from the war, remember and transmit, explain the people who came to our city and do not know its history ...,  she turned to her colleagues, and then congratulated everyone on the holiday of Leningrad Victory Day.

    The Secretary General of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member States, Dmitry Kobitsky, expressed his deep respect to Grachya Pogosyan for installation of the monument that reflects the courage of people of different nationalities.
     - It is a memory that is kept in our hearts, in hearts of all those who used to be united by a big country and those who have not forgotten nowadays what is a big country that won the Great Victory, which our people deserved ... I want to thank all Leningrad residents who gave their lives, but did not give our beloved city, for a courage and perseverance,” - said Dmitry Arkadievich.

     - “Our organization unites those countries having a common language, common culture and common history – our common Victory,” - said Sergey Pospelov, Executive Secretary of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in his speech. - My ancestors were not blockades, they were not Leningrad residents, but my grandfather was a Soviet sea cadet, another grandfather was saved from death by Armenian, Ukrainian and Georgian soldiers, who carried him for many hours after a battle on the 1st Ukrainian Front. I know it for sure that courage and victory have no nationality or residence. Therefore, our main task is to preserve the memory of our common victory and pass it on to our children and our great-grandchildren.  

      Anatoly Drozdov, Vice-Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, on behalf of the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly Vyacheslav Makarov and deputies congratulated everyone on the upcoming holiday.
     “Our task is to preserve the memory for our future generation ...” - said Anatoly Vladimirovich Drozdov and thanked Grachya Pogosyan for preserving this memory.
In his turn, the philanthropist Grachya Pogosyan recalled the opening of the monument 2 years ago in his speech:

       - “The sculptor of this monument, Evgeny Nikitich Rotanov, who is also present among us today, depicted workers and soldiers, women and children, old people and youth on the monument. It is a collective image, which shows not only professions and age, but also the multinationality of the people who defended our city”, -  the philanthropist said. For this reason such persons as Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS countries and representatives of the parliament of the CIS states are present with us today. I am sure that each of them feels a special pride in their people as well as in a contribution they made to the liberation of Leningrad and to the common Victory. And I am proud of Armenian people, my people, who stood on defense and liberation of Leningrad together with other peoples, and made a huge contribution to the Victory.
      I can’t help but recall the following words of Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov: “The Armenians immortalized their names in the victory over fascism beginning with common soldiers and ending with marshals”.

    - Therefore, I believe that someday the events held here will become citywide, because this monument embodies the image of all peoples, expressed his hope Grachya Pogosyan. He thanked the residents of the besieged Leningrad and veterans for their loyalty in erecting this monument and congratulated everyone on the upcoming holiday.
       Then, baskets of roses from all the guests of honor who came to the ceremony and bouquets of carnations from everyone who took part in this event were laid at the foot of the monument “To the courage of Leningrad residents who defended our city”. At the end of the action, everyone was waiting for a hot soldier's porridge and a concert performed by the winners of Russian and international competitions  Natalya Mikhailova and Mikhail Kuznetsov. 

      In the afternoon, Grachya Pogosyan Charitable Foundation organized a festive dinner, which brought together residents of the besieged Leningrad, veterans - members of the organization of Leningrad war and military service veterans, honored guests of the event, friends and colleagues.
      A documentary telling about the work done by Grachya Pogosyan, and subsequently his fund in the field of saving the memory about the events and heroes of the Great Patriotic War was shown for them.
It is worth noting that the philanthropist has been supporting veterans and residents of the besieged Leningrad for over 20 years. Grachya Misakovich Pogosyan charity work began with a targeted assistance to living witnesses and participants of those events, and resulted in installation of more than 100 monuments (memorial plates, busts, architectural structures) dedicated to the Great Patriotic War, both in Russia and abroad.

      It is always warmly recalled by both veterans and residents of the besieged Leningrad, emphasizing that many of them survived in difficult 90s exactly owing to Grachya Pogosyan support.
  That's how the participants of the holiday, giving thanks to the patron for his great work, congratulating each other on Leningrad Victory Day, listening to their favorite songs of the war years, ended this joyful and warm day, despite the damp and dank weather.