UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PAYS HOMAGE TO FATHER, FELLOW COMBATANTS KILLED IN NOVGOROD DURING WWII

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NOVGOROD VELIKY, May 9 (RIA Novosti's Andrei Letyagin) -Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma is spending this Victory Day in the northwestern Russian city of Veliky Novgorod, where he has come together with his family. Other Ukrainian government officials and Ukrainian WWII veterans are accompanying him on the trip.

Upon arrival at the Novgorod airport, Kuchma headed for a military garrison in the nearby village of Novoselitsy. He came along to pay homage to his father, Danila Kuchma, buried at a local cemetery. Danila died of wounds in the Novoselitsy military hospital on February 7, 1942, but it was only in 1996 that his family learned about this. Ukrainian President now visits the place every Victory Day.

Leonid Kuchma and his grandson sounded memorial tolls and laid wreaths at the tombs of Danila Kuchma and his comrades-in-arms. He then chatted with servicemen on active duty in the Novoselitsy garrison as well as WWII survivors.

The community presented the Ukrainian leader with traditional craft wares and a photo album containing photographs taken during his previous visits.

Kuchma and his entourage then had a memorial meal. He raised a shot glass of gorilka (Ukrainian red pepper vodka) in the memory of all Soviet soldiers killed in WWII. His second toast was to the Victory.

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