MOSCOW, June 14. /TASS/. Paraguay’s President-elect Mario Benitez has handed over to Russian President Vladimir Putin orders awarded to Russian officers who lost their lives in the Chaco war between Paraguay and Bolivia in 1932-1935 and also presented him with a seven-kilogram cast statue made of bullets. The ceremony took place in the Kremlin on Thursday.
"We would like to present you with orders awarded to officers who had participated in the Chaco War and also a seven-kilogram statue. It is made of bullets that had been used in that war," Mario Benitez said.
"Thank you for this gesture of attention and for the Russian officers’ orders," Putin said. "All this will certainly take a worthy place."
He promised to hold consultations with the Russian public on that score.
"This is certainly an item of great significance. It illustrates our proximity. Memories of such people should certainly be preserved," Putin said adding that work along these lines was in progress to ensure future generations should know the heroic pages of the history of the Russian officer class.
In 1932-1935 Paraguay fought the Chaco war with Bolivia for the control of the oil province Chaco Boreal.
Benitez recalled Russian officers’ participation in the Chaco War.
"Our people feel deep gratitude to Russia and Russian officers for their heroism and self-sacrifice," he said. In particular, he recalled the role of Russian officer Serebryakov, who died in the decisive battle of the Chaco war, which enabled Paraguay to attain victory.
As he welcomed Benitez, Putin congratulated him upon his election victory and addressed to him as Mr. President, although the inauguration ceremony is due in August. The Russian leader recalled that diplomatic relations between the two countries had been established back in 1909.
"It is known very well that our compatriots made a noticeable contribution to the development of your country," he said.
Putin thanked Paraguay for the reception given to Patriarch Kirill, of Moscow and All Russia, adding that this emphasized spiritual bonds. The Russian leader remarked that he hoped to discuss various ways of developing bilateral relations and expressed the certainty that "the time spent in Russia will create the necessary, correct emotions and serve as an encouraging factor for the development of our ties."
Benitez thanked Putin for the congratulations. He said the meeting was historic, because for the first time ever "Paraguay’s president shakes hands with the president of Russia.".