12 August 2020
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892 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     884 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

02.09.2016

Agenda: I pay tribute to the dignity and modesty of the brave sailors of the Arctic convoys (by Consul General in Edinburgh Andrey A. Pritsepov to Herald Scotland)

Tonight I shall host a gala reception on board the Royal Yacht Britannia to mark the 75th anniversary of the first Arctic convoy with the codename Operation Dervish. It is meant to be a special event: a solemn and dignified tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. More than 50 Arctic convoys veterans living in Scotland are attending the celebrations.

During the event I am going to read an address by the minister of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr Sergey Lavrov, to the veterans and guests as the event. He emphasises: “The chronicles of the convoys are an integral part of the history of Russian-British relations. 75 years ago, just a few weeks after the treacherous attack of the Nazis on our country, Archangel was greeting British ships which brought first aid from the allies in this most terrible war in the history of mankind. The first convoy was lucky to avoid any losses but there were still almost four long years ahead, filled with the trials and bitterness of sufferings."

He goes on: "The task of thousands of sailors of Great Britain, the USSR, the United States and other allied countries was to challenge the formidable Northern seas to confront an enemy ready to attack at any moment. Many of them didn’t reach their destination. Yet, the arrival of each ship at the harbours of the northern Russia was not just about the delivery of a valuable cargo; it was a sign that the Soviet people were not alone in their struggle against fascism. Your courage and dedication brought much closer the day when the hateful Nazi war machine was finally defeated."

With support from Scottish business, the Russian Consulate General has prepared for the veterans unique artifacts related to the Arctic Convoys. They include an exquisite Cold Seas and Warm Friendships photo-book by Commander Dairmid Gunn and photographer Kenneth Reynolds, containing life stories of 30 veterans and rare historical photographs; a limited anniversary edition Highland single malt whisky “in recognition and gratitude to all those who steadfastly served with honour and distinction”; and a three-piece set of woollen souvenirs, made of specially registered Russian Arctic convoy tartan.

A minute's silence will be observed in tribute to those who never came back. The memory of their sacrifice will be treasured in my country forever.

This week, as well as tonight, there is a series of commemorative events in Russia taking place in Archangel and Saint Petersburg. Her Royal Highness Princess Anne is attending the events. I am pleased that several guests from Scotland are there, among whom will be two Arctic convoy veterans.

Throughout my years as the Russian Consul General in Scotland, I have met many brave sailors from the Arctic convoys. I was honoured to present the esteemed Russian military award, the Ushakov Medal, personally to each of them, listen carefully to their stories, study the old photos and look into their eyes. I was impressed and humbled by the modesty and dignity of these brave men.

Conversations with the veterans left a deep impression on me. Going through the horrors of war, witnessing their brothers in arms lost to enemy attacks, the veterans truly understand the value of peace. I am saddened to say this but they might be the last generation to know exactly the right from the wrong.

The veterans are at a venerable age but, when they tell their war stories, I see their eyes light up as if they were young again and sailing the stormy waters of the Arctic, braving the elements and resisting the ruthless enemy. Each of them told me that he did nothing special, just his job. By doing that job properly, with courage and valour, they wrote themselves into a proud page in our shared history.

Now, more than ever, it is of the utmost importance to preserve the legacy of the Arctic convoys for future generations and recognize the heroism of these brave sailors who went through unimaginable hardships so that we could live in peace. The veterans are living proof of the fact that our countries, despite differences and setbacks, could work together successfully to address a common threat and be victorious.




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