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MOSCOW, August 1 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Soldiers’ World War I Remembrance Day will be marked for the first time in Russia on Thursday. Chairman of the State Duma lower house of parliament, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the preparation of activities associated with the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the chairman of the Russian Historical Society (RHS) Sergei Naryshkin will lay on behalf of the government a wreath with a black ribbon at the Obelisk to the Soldiers Fallen in the World War of 1914-1918 in Moscow, the press service of the State Duma told Itar-Tass.
“The remembrance date was established on the initiative of the Russian parliament in the autumn of 2012 and is timed to the Russian Empire’s entry into the First World War,” the press service recalled.
Sergei Naryshkin will also hold on Thursday a working meeting with the Organising Committee members and the leadership of the RHS and the Russian Military and Historical Society dedicated to the preparation for the events marking the 100th anniversary since the outbreak of the First World War. This date will be observed next year. The meeting will be held at the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812.
The First World War began on July 28, 1914 after Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. The formal reason was the assassination in Sarajevo (now Bosnia and Herzegovina) of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Historians admit that the accumulated insoluble interstate and inter-allied contradictions caused the war. That is why the declaration by Austria of war on Serbia caused a “domino effect:” Russia said it would not allow the occupation of Serbia, the Germany - an ally of Austria-Hungary, began secret mobilisation, and France - Russia’s ally, started to put its troops in the alert.
It did not respond to Russia’s proposal to take the Austro-Serbian problem to the Hague Conference for consideration, after which Russia also started mobilisation. Germany, in turn, put forward an ultimatum to it, demanding to end to the mobilisation, and when Russia refused, it declared war on August 1. A day later, Germany declared war against France that formed one military bloc with Russia and England, after which England also entered the war.
However, some historians argue that on August 1 British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey promised to Berlin that in the event of war between Germany and Russia England would remain neutral - only on condition that the Germans would not attack France. However, victory over France was one of the most important goals for Germany in the war.
Contemporaries noted that the war had caused widespread enthusiasm in all countries, but nobody thought that it would last not 3-4 months, but four years and cause unprecedented casualties and destruction. As a result of this war, four empires: the Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman ceased to exist. The total number of the war victims is estimated at 30 million.