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    IRKUTSK, January 13th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - WWII veteran organisations of Russia should assign priority to promoting the historical truth about the Great Patriotic War (as the war between the Soviet people and the Nazi invaders of 1941-1945 is traditionally referred to in Russia) and the military traditions of the Armed Forces. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said this Tuesday when meeting with leaders of the Irkutsk (Siberia) veteran organisations.

    Honestly, those who know nothing about history, do not respect traditions and are indifferent to the past impoverish their present and future, said Ivanov. In his words, the defence ministry in turn is ready to provide its media sources for publishing materials aimed at raising the prestige of the military service, and veterans' memoirs.

    In his address to the veterans, the minister thanked them for turning the veteran movement in the Irkutsk region into a powerful and organised public and political force having a say in nearly all spheres of this Siberian region's life.

    "This is particularly essential now that our country is preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War," Ivanov stressed.

    He recalled that on November 18th, 2003 when Vladimir Putin was meeting veterans of the war and the Armed Forces, the president spoke for forming a special working group to be possibly headed by Mr Ivanov.

    This group's goal would be to co-ordinate festive arrangements for the upcoming landmark anniversary.

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