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Russia honoured for liberation struggle

3 January 2019

The names of 67 Soviet/Russian soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the liberation movements in Southern Africa, were inscribed into the Wall of Names at Freedom Park, a remembrance museum of the struggle for freedom in South Africa. A ceremony was held on 13 December 2018 where Ambassador Petrakov of the Russian Federation to South Africa and Minister Nathi Mthethwa of Arts and Culture unveiled the Soviet section of the Wall of Names.

The inscription of the 67 names is a symbolic significant gesture that shows that South Africa cares said Ambassador Petrakov. "It is an honour for me to be here at Freedom Park. It is a truly unique place where history and memories become palpable as they are preserved with great care and attention," said Ambassador Petrakov.

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Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus in South Africa. Mr. Alexander D. Sidoruk laid a wreath at the Wall of Names acknowledging the six combatants who descended from Belarus.

Petrakov also spoke about JB Marks and Moses Kotane who left South Africa for Russia in 1963 to lobby the international community to support the fight against Apartheid. They died and were buried in Moscow in the 70's and their remains were repatriated to South Africa in March 2015.

At the time President Zuma said, “The cooperation of the Russian Federation in our efforts to bring these two giants of our struggle back to their land of birth, and the remarkable and stately send-off yesterday when they left Russia will also forever be remembered by the South African people as a gesture of true friendship.”

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The Soviet Union supported the South African liberation struggle and it is during that period of time that the core principles of Russia's relations with South Africa were laid down, based on mutual respect and mutual cooperation, said Ambassador Petrakov.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa of Arts and Culture and Minister Lindiwe Zulu of Small Business Development commended the Soviet Union for their support for the liberation movements in Southern Africa. The battle of Cuito Cuanavale was a turning point in the Struggle.

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They also acknowledged the role the Soviet Union played in training MK soldiers and offering educational opportunities to many in the Struggle. Minister Zulu, deprived of an opportunity to receive education in South Africa, said that she received her Master’s degree at People’s Friendship University in Moscow.

The speakers concurred that it was important to teach the younger generations the history of the relationship between Russia and South Africa, and the role the former USSR played in the liberation Struggle, should be taught in schools.

A photo exhibition illustrating the history of Russia - South Africa relations during the years of the anti-apartheid struggle was also on display.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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February/March 2020

 
 
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