10:52 GMT22 February 2020
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    The Russian foreign minister joined President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem on Thursday to commemorate the Soviet victims of the Second World War as part of broader ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious death camp Auschwitz.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to have been deeply moved by the ceremonial opening of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad, and was spotted wiping away tears during President Putin’s speech.

    Text Reads: “Lavrov driven to tears: Russia’s foreign minister at the ceremonial opening of a monument to the heroes of the Siege.”

    Putin, who gave a speech at the ceremony, was visibly moved himself, saying that although “monuments can be inaugurated in a number of ways, how you’ve managed to do so today…thank you.”

    The 8.5-metre Memorial Candle monument, dedicated to an estimated one million Soviet citizens who died during the Nazi encirclement of Leningrad, contains an urn of soil from St. Petersburg’s Piskaryovskoe Memorial Cemetery, where as many as half a million of the Siege’s victims are buried. St. Petersburg solemnly commemorated the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the Siege in 2019.

    After facing stiff resistance from Leningrad’s defenders in 1941, the Nazis attempted to bomb and starve the city into submission. In the event of victory, the Nazis planned to wipe the city from the face of the earth and to kill or enslave all its residents.

    Putin arrived in Jerusalem to take part in the World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem remembrance centre, with the event also attended by dozens of world leaders. Speaking to President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday, the Russian president described the Holocaust as the “common tragedy” of both Russia and Israel, since Soviet Jews accounted for over 40 percent of the estimated 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. Some 26.6 million Soviet people including over 8 million Red Army soldiers and over 18 million civilians lost their lives during the Second World War.

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