Fallen Russian soldiers who helped fight apartheid remembered at Freedom Park
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Pretoria – Soviet officers who lost their lives helping South Africans fight the apartheid regime did not die in vain.
This was said by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to South Africa, Ilya Rogachev, and Freedom Park chief executive Jane Mufamadi. They were speaking during the annual floral tribute ceremony at the Russian section of the Wall of Names, Freedom Park, on Tuesday.
Every year the heritage site commemorates the 67 Soviet officers whose names are engraved on the wall for sacrificing their lives in the Struggle for the liberation of the people of South Africa and other African countries.
Mufamadi said the Soviet Union had been the only great power to refuse to have any contact with the apartheid regime, unlike most Western states, which had felt reluctant to drop economic, and even political ties.
She said that since the early 1960s, the Russian people had provided support for the anti-apartheid Struggle, including providing military training and arms to the ANC and other liberation movements on the continent.
“This ceremony fulfils Freedom Park’s primary mandate of honouring the heroes and heroines of various struggle movements for freedom and humanity against the atrocious systems of colonialism and apartheid.
“We all know that apartheid was declared a crime against humanity. To date, Freedom Park has honoured over 140 895 names of our stalwarts across various categories of the liberation Struggle, and of this number 67 are Soviet-Russian soldiers.”
Mufamadi said this was part of Freedom Park acknowledging the political, diplomatic, humanitarian and material support the Soviet Union and Russia provided to South Africa and the entire Southern Africa region.
Rogachev thanked Freedom Park for providing assistance in the joint annual traditional ceremony of paying tribute to the heroes who played a role in the struggle for equality and human dignity.
“This ceremony is of prime importance and has to be held every year to provide people, especially youngsters, with information about the deeds of their ancestors.
“The key aspect of such an event is that ties between Russia and South Africa are maintained not only due to co-operation and interaction and the framework of organisations such as BRICS and the UN. Our two nations are also bound by blood shed for common aims,” said Rogachev.
Representing Umkhonto we Sizwe, retired Major-General Abey Notsheweleka applauded the Soviet Union for its commendable contributions to the Struggle for liberation and human dignity in South Africa.