06:51 GMT08 August 2020
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    The family of Russian officer Alexander Prokhorenko, who was killed in Syria fighting against Daesh militants outside Palmyra, has written a no-nonsense appeal to French President Francois Hollande, urging him to unite efforts with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

    The letter, read out by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at her regular press briefing on Thursday, asked the French president why, "after the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, when our hearts were together with those of the French people, nothing was done to avenge the innocent victims?"

    The appeal recalled that the people and nations of France and Russia had "courageously fought shoulder to shoulder for France's freedom, and for the freedom of the entire planet, during the Second World War" against the Nazi menace. "Today, the letter said, "when international terrorism, like the Nazis in the previous century, threatens the whole world, you pretend that these brutes are really some kind of opposition, which can be negotiated with."

    "Have you ever thought about the prospect, God forbid, of one of your own children falling into their hands?" the appeal asked. "Our son gave his life so that this would never happen. How much more blood must be shed for you to understand that only together can our people stop and defeat this plague of our century?"

    Ultimately, the letter lamented that it was "painful to see that European leaders are doing everything possible to give the terrorists a respite," and criticized the French president for his suggestion that Russia should be sanctioned for its military's efforts in Syria. "Instead of uniting our forces, you publically condemn Russian pilots' actions and call for new anti-Russian sanctions."

    But ultimately, the appeal told Hollande that "you cannot take the position of observer in this fight. You are either fighting terrorists, or you are on their side."

    Senior Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko, 25, was killed in March during the battle to liberate the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra from Daesh. Conducting ground-based reconnaissance for Russian warplanes, the officer's position was compromised, and he found himself surrounded by militants. Facing capture, Prokhorenko called in an airstrike on his own position, which killed him and several jihadists.

    The officer's heroism received praise from around the world, including France.

    The Magues, a retired French couple, were so touched by Prokhorenko's sacrifice that they sent his family a letter of gratitude, along with two World War II-era medals received by their family members for fighting the Nazis. The couple, who said that the Russian officer reminded them of their own son, were invited to Moscow and presented with Russian Defense Ministry medals for helping to strengthen friendship and understanding between France and Russia.

    Another Frenchman, Daniel Couture, sent his own father's Order of the Legion of Honor to the Russian Embassy to be handed to the Prokhorenkos, and stressed that today's fight against Daesh was no less important than the fight against the Nazis was. The medal he presented was originally given to his father, a French fighter pilot who died fighting invading Nazi German forces in May 1940. Yet another French couple, the Floch family from Brittany, also gifted their family's own WWII-era Order of the Legion of Honor to pay tribute to the Russian officer.


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    no-nonsense, letter, appeal, Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Prokhorenko, Francois Hollande, Russia
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