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ASHGABAT, May 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Turkmenistan began Victory Day celebrations on Friday with a flower laying ceremony to the Eternal Fire Memorial in the center of the republic's capital Ashgabat. Marching in the first column were grey-haired veterans wearing military medals and decorations and widows of WW II fighters in snow-white kerchiefs. Taking part in the ceremony was Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, government officials, parliamentarians, public representatives and ambassadors of foreign states.
"Victory Day augments the high feelings of pride and patriotism," the president said in an address to the nation. He thanked war veterans for their noble work to raise the younger generation.
"The fighters who showed unprecedented patriotism in those fiery years and stanch workers of the rear enjoy universal respect and care," the head of state said.
Ahead of May 9, more than 560 war veterans and World War II fighters' widows were paid 200 manats ($70) each, and a number of organizations gave them presents. In Turkmenistan, war veterans are entitled to free medical and utility services.
That the nation remembers its heroes is shown by the construction of a new monument to the defenders of the Fatherland who fell in wars, as well as to victims of the devastating Ashgabat earthquake of 1948, Berdymukhammedov said.
Some 300,000 Turkmenistan residents fought during the Great Patriotic War; of those 86,000 fell in battles. They all were announced national heroes of Turkmenistan and their names were entered into the Khatyra book of remembrance.