A military parade featuring troops and materiel of the Minsk Garrison’s units marked the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in Minsk on May 9.
The event was held near the Minsk Hero City memorial in northwestern Minsk and drew a crowd of some 350,000 people, according to the presidential press office.
A minute of silence was followed by a speech by Alyaksandr Lukashenka who traditionally attacked attempts at what he described as "revising the history" and "distorting the truth about World War II."
"The historic truth is that it is the Soviet Union that played the decisive role in the anti-fascist fight. It is [the Soviet Union] that became the force that changed the nature of World War II, determined its outcome, decided the fate of not only our Motherland but also of many other states and peoples, in fact of the entire international community," said Mr. Lukashenka, with his five-year-old son, Kolya, standing at his side.
The Belarusian leader lashed out at attempts to "belittle the importance of the great deed of our soldier and underground resistance fighter" and "denigrate patriots who fought for their country’s liberation.""What is even worse is that such attempts have started growing into a political trend. Today everything possible must be done to stop the history’s revision," he stressed.
Mr. Lukashenka described the war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as a "comprehensive battle between different political systems, opposite moral and spiritual values."
"We are calling on all countries of the world not to ignore new challenges and dangerous trends that threaten our security. The precious legacy - freedom and independence - must be not only honored but also protected from political and economic threats by any means," he warned.
Mr. Lukashenka pledged that the Belarusian government would do its utmost to further increase the country’s defense capability.
According to official estimates, a total of 42,220 Belarus residents currently have the status of veteran of the Great Patriotic War. Of these, 30,566 were directly involved in the fighting. Some 42,000 more residents are former prisoners of Nazi death camps, prisons and ghettos.
A veteran of the Great Patriotic War is eligible for an average monthly retirement benefit of around 800,000 rubels ($270). They are also entitled to free medicines and fare-free rides on urban and suburban pubic buses.