18:13 GMT +321 May 2018
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    Participants of the action Immortal regiment in Berlin

    Immortal Regiment March to Commemorate WWII Participants Held Across Globe

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Marches to commemorate the participants of World War II who fought against Nazi Germany are held worldwide on Wednesday.

    During the marches, people carry photographs of their ancestors who participated in the war.

    The Immortal Regiment is a non-commercial and non-political initiative, and the participation in it is voluntary. The first Immortal Regiment march took place in 2012 in the Russian city of Tomsk at the initiative of local TV journalists.

    READ MORE: Moscow's 2018 Victory Day Military Parade in Photos

    Ukraine

    Participants of the Nobody is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgotten action (analog of the Immortal Regiment march) on Wednesday laid flowers at the Eternal Flame in the Park of Eternal Glory in Kiev, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    The column of participants of the action passed from the Arsenalna metro station to the park of Eternal Glory. Flowers were also laid by the members of the Ukrainian parliament from the Opposition Bloc faction. Nobody prevented participants of the action from laying flowers at the memorial.

    Акция Бессмертный полк на Украине
    © Sputnik / Stringer
    Participants of the action "An immortal regiment" in Kiev

    However, the organizer of the action, Elena Berezhnaya, was detained in Kiev because of the St. George's ribbon (banned in Ukraine since 2017) she wore, the Ukrainian broadcaster Espresso reported. Earlier in the day, the press service of the country's Interior Ministry reported that seven people had been detained for using Soviet symbols during the event on the Victory Day.

    At the same time, flash mob participants in the center of Kiev took up portraits of the heroes of the popular computer game World of Warcraft, protesting against the Immortal Regiment march.

    Earlier in May, the Kiev city administration registered the application of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, banned in Russia), which intended to organize the event in Kiev and prevent the Immortal Regiment march. The nationalists said they intended to patrol the streets to disrupt the procession.

    The commemorative march was also held in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchug in the Poltava region. Ukrainian nationalists joined the procession holding portraits of fighters of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA, banned in Russia), the local newspaper Telegraf reported.

    In April 2015, President Petro Poroshenko gave OUN-UPA (currently banned in Russia) the status of "fighters for independence" of Ukraine, and its members — the right for social care. Moscow condemned this decision, noting that "Ukraine is the country where neo-Nazis have gone from words to action and killed thousands of civilians" and that "such actions must be adequately assessed at the international level."

    The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was formed in October 1942 as the military wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). UPA operated mainly in Western Ukraine and fought against the Soviet troops, collaborating with the Nazis. After the end of the Great Patriotic War, it continued to act against the Soviet authorities via extremist methods — the victims of the UPA militants were representatives of the intelligentsia and local authorities, Komsomol and party activists.

    Georgia

    Representatives of the Socialist Georgia and the Communists political organizations, the Stalin movement and their supporters conducted the Immortal Regiment march in Tbilisi, the leader of the Socialist Georgia Valery Kvaratskhelia said.

    "Our call is to turn this day into a national holiday. Our leadership comes to the Victory Park with hypocritical regret, they recognize neither Stalin nor the Soviet Union, nor the socialist system, nor the veterans. We believe in all this," Kvaratskhelia told reporters.

    The participants of the action held Stalin's portraits and marched from the central entrance to the park to the Eternal Fire to lay wreaths and flowers.

    Organizers of the Immortal Regiment told reporters that the action also took place in the cities of Batumi and Gori.

    Акция Бессмертный полк за рубежом
    © Sputnik / Levan Avlabreli
    Participants of the action "An immortal regiment" in Tbilisi

    The day before, the State Security Service of Georgia sent a written warning to the Socialist Georgia about the ban on the use of Soviet symbols on the May 9 actions in Victory Park. The agency reminded that the "Charter of Freedom" adopted by Georgia's parliament in 2011 in the form of an amendment to the constitution prohibited the use of communist symbols during public events.

    Belarus

    The Immortal Regiment civil action gathered hundreds of participants in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Victory Day, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene.

    Акция Бессмертный полк за рубежом
    © Sputnik / Victor Tolochko
    Participants of the action "An immortal regiment" in Minsk

    Earlier this spring, the organizer of the Immortal Regiment in Minsk, Valery Drako, said that the mayor's office this year refused to conduct the event, motivating his decision by the fact that another campaign with similar goals and objectives, Belarus Remembers, was planned for May 9. On Tuesday, the head of the Young Rus organization Sergey Lushch said that the city authorities agreed to hold the Immortal Regiment in Minsk, however with minor changes in time. At the same time, the Minsk City Executive Committee told Sputnik that it had invited the participants of the Immortal Regiment to join the Belarus Remembers action instead of holding a separate march.

    Early on Wednesday, the participants of the Immortal Regiment began to gather at the Belarusian State Philharmonic in Minsk, they all carried posters and portraits of their relatives, who were the Great Patriotic War participants. Some of the participants in the procession were puzzled by the fact that the Minsk authorities did not want to give permission for the Immortal Regiment.

    "It's good that today our government has reached out to the people, though slowly, lazily… This action takes place in New York, Paris, other countries and capitals. This is our Great Victory, it is necessary [to hold the march] in its memory," one of the participants of the action, Anatoly, said.

    Many residents of Minsk came with children, everyone willingly shared their heroes' war stories and sang songs of the war years. People mostly learned about the event from the Internet the night before, but there were also those who planned their participation in the Immortal Regiment since last year.

    The procession marched to Victory Square, where the central events of the Victory Day with the participation of the president of Belarus are conducted this year, and then joined the public action Belarus Remembers. In previous years in Belarus, the participants of two actions also joined each other to honor the memory of war heroes, to lay flowers and wreaths to the Victory Monuments.

    Kazakhstan

    The Immortal Regiment participants also marched through the streets of Astana, Alma-Ata and other cities of Kazakhstan.

    Акция Бессмертный полк за рубежом
    © Sputnik / Bolat Shaykhinov
    Participants of the action "An immortal regiment" in Astana

    One of the event's organizers, Murat Abdushkurov, noted that last year, the city's interior department estimated the number of participants in the procession at 87,000.

    "I think this year there will be even more participants," he said before the start of the march.

    In Alma-Ata, the column of the march participants stretched for several kilometers. By the time when its vanguard reached the final point of the route, the Eternal Flame, the closing part of the column has not yet moved from Astana square.

    Kyrgyzstan

    The Immortal Regiment in Kyrgyzstan's capital of Bishkek, in which about 45,000 people took part, was conducted without incidents, a spokesperson for the Bishkek mayor's office told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    READ MORE: LIVE UPDATES: Victory Day Military Parade Held in Russian Capital (VIDEO)

    According to the mayor's office, a record number of people took part in the actions dedicated to the 73rd anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

    "People of different ages and nationalities came with portraits of their relatives and beloved ones and headed toward Victory Square. According to preliminary data about 45,000 people took part in the march," the spokesperson said.

    President Sooronbay Jeenbekov took part in the rally for the first time. The head of state carried a portrait of his grandfather Jehenbek Pirnazarov, put on the list of missing persons in the Great Patriotic War.

    The route of the column passed along one of the main streets of Bishkek, from Victory Park at the southern gate of the city to Victory Square in the center of the capital. The length of the route was 6.6 kilometers (4.1 miles). According to the government of Kyrgyzstan, another 14 cities, including the southern capital of the republic, Osh, as well as all regional centers, also took part in the Immortal Regiment march.

    The Immortal Regiment has been held in the capital of Kyrgyzstan since 2014. More than 300,000 soldiers and officers of Kyrgyz nationalities fought in the war, that is, every sixth resident of Kyrgyzstan, of whom 95,000 did not return from it. About 100 Kyrgyz soldiers were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, some of them posthumously. The Red Army's 316th Rifle Division under command of Gen. Ivan Panfilov, which became famous in heroic fights near Moscow, was mostly recruited from Kazakh and Kyrgyz nationals.

    Tajikistan

    More than 600 people took part in the Immortal Regiment in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene.

    "Union of Soldiers-Internationalists of Tajikistan decided to hold this action, as it was in 2017, despite the fact that we did not receive permission from the authorities again," one of the organizers, the union's deputy chairman Nur Umarov told Sputnik.

    The route of the Immortal Regiment began from Victory Square in the center of Dushanbe. From there, a number of participants of the action traveled on bus to the Victory Park on the eastern outskirts of the city, where most of the participants joined them. The action lasted more than an hour. During this time, people of different ages joined the march.

    In the park the march participants laid flowers to the Eternal Flame near the memorial of soldiers who died during the Great Patriotic War. Many people did not want to leave, they sang military songs and danced.

    Earlier in the day, a military parade took place. Before its beginning, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon congratulated people on the Victory Day. Over 1,000 servicemen of the Defense Ministry, the State Committee for National Security, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the border troops, the National Guard and representatives of other law enforcement agencies took part in the parade. Also, 120 servicemen of the 201st Russian military base stationed in Tajikistan participated in it. The event was attended by veterans of the Great Patriotic War, ambassadors of foreign countries accredited in Tajikistan, representatives of international organizations, schoolchildren and students.

    Turkmenistan

    The Immortal Regiment march was also held in the Turkmen-Russian school named after A.S. Pushkin in Ashgabat, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    The action was initiated by the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan. Students of the Turkmen-Russian school took part in the march, carrying photographs of their relatives who participated in the Great Patriotic War.

    READ MORE: What You Need to Know About Immortal Regiment March

    Before the start of the procession, a rally was held at which Minister Counsellor of the Russian Embassy in Turkmenistan Sergey Nasinovskiy delivered a speech. He recalled that Napoleon's France aspired to world domination in the 19th century, and Hitler's Germany in the 20th century, but there always was and is a force capable of stopping the aggressors.

    "There were fifteen republics in the USSR, including Russia and Turkmenistan, so it is our common victory, it will always remain in our hearts, it will always be our pride, our ideology," the Russian diplomat said.

    Germany

    Several thousand people took part in the official flower laying ceremony to the Soviet memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin, a Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene.

    The official celebration began with a traditional minute of silence at the foot of the memorial. The heads and representatives of the diplomatic missions of Russia, the United States, Vietnam, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, as well as the German Federal Government, Berlin Senate, representatives of various political parties and anti-fascist organizations went to the monument carrying flowers.

    Акция Бессмертный полк за рубежом
    © Sputnik / Zachary Scheuer
    Participants of the action "Immortal regiment" in Berlin

    Later, the veterans of the Great Patriotic War and participants of the Resistance, Russian-speaking citizens of Germany, German activists and guests of the capital laid the flowers. Some of them came with banners specially made for the Immortal Regiment action, which was scheduled to take place later in the day in the center of Berlin, near the Brandenburg Gate.

    Poland

    Several hundred people took part in the Immortal Regiment march in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    The action took place in Warsaw for the third year in a row. On Wednesday morning, representatives of the Russian embassy, diplomatic missions of other CIS countries, activists of Polish public organizations gathered at the memorial cemetery on Zwirki i Wigury Street, where 22,000 Soviet soldiers-liberators of Poland are buried.

    Action Immortal regiment in Warsaw
    © Sputnik / Alexei Vitvitskiy
    Action "Immortal regiment" in Warsaw

    This year, several veterans of the Great Patriotic War from Russia took part in the action. One of them has brother buried at the memorial cemetery.

    Accompanied by the war songs, the action participants laid flowers and wreaths to the memorial in the center of the cemetery. Many participants of the action brought portraits of relatives who took part in the Great Patriotic War.

    Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreev noted that every year the number of participants in the rally in Warsaw was growing.

    "According to the impressions, we do not count, but it seems this year a lot more people have come. I am glad that not only our compatriots come, but also citizens of Poland come with portraits of their relatives," he told reporters.

    Switzerland

    The Immortal Regiment action was also held at the Hornli cemetery in the Swiss city of Basel, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    In memory of those who perished during the WWII, Russian Ambassador to Switzerland Sergei Garmonin and Russia's Envoy to the United Nations Office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov laid wreaths on a common grave where the remains of Soviet soldiers were buried. Historians say that Soviet soldiers buried in the Hornli cemetery fled from German captivity and died while crossing the Rhine, trying to hide in neutral Switzerland.

    The Immortal Regiment action on Hornli brought together about 400 people, including Russians and compatriots living in Switzerland, neighboring France and Germany, as well as Swiss citizens.

    Garmonin stressed that the Immortal Regiment action in Basel was organized by local public organizations. At the same time, the Russian embassy, the Russian Permanent Mission to the UN and Rossotrudnichestvo office in Switzerland provided special buses so that everyone could take part in the event and travel to the venue from Geneva, Bern, Zurich and Fribourg.

    On Saturday, the Immortal Regiment also took place in Geneva with about 100 people in attendance. They marched with songs along one of the embankments of the Geneva lake, past the UN Human Rights Council building in the direction of the Nations Square, right in front of the UN building. Together with the Russian citizens living in Geneva, a family of Poles, who also carried portraits of their ancestors who died during World War II, took part in the "Immortal Regiment."

    China

    The Immortal Regiment action was also held in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Its participants were citizens of Russia, the countries of the former Soviet republics, descendants of Chinese soldiers who took part in battles in different parts of the continent.

    Children and adults, holding portraits of heroes and red banners high above their heads, proudly marched along the alleys of Chaoyang Park and laid flowers at the monument to the Soviet military pilots "Soviet Falcon" installed near the Jintai Art Museum.

    Акция Бессмертный полк впервые прошла в Пекине
    © Sputnik / Ivan Bulatov
    The action "Immortal regiment" was first held in Beijing

    Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov marched at the front of the column with a portrait of his father.

    "Today we are all equal, today there is not one who is older and younger, one who is higher or lower, one who is a citizen of one country or another — today we are all together, and this feeling of unity, this feeling, as they say in China, of a community, of the common destiny of mankind, — today we feel it to the full," the diplomat told journalists.

    The ambassador noted the importance of the fact that representatives of the younger generation took part in the rally.

    All participants of the event willingly shared their personal experiences and stories of their heroes, saying that such conversations and memories would not allow the WWII to become just a historical event, it would always be a part of the real life of many generations, and heroic deed would not be forgotten.

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