MOSCOW, July 02. /ITAR-TASS/. President Vladimir Putin will travel to Minsk on Wednesday to pay a tribute of memory to millions of the Great Patriotic War (GPW) heroes. Russia's Head of State will participate in the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus from Nazi invaders.
A Kremlin press service official told Itar-Tass that Putin would attend a ceremony to inaugurate a new building of the GPW History Museum, and lay a wreath at the Victory Monument.
The Belarus liberation operation (codenamed Bagration), one of the largest-scale strategic campaigns of the GPW, was carried out within a period from June 23 to August 29, 1944. The Red Army losses amounted to 178,000, whereas Nazi troops lost 381,000 killed and 158,000 taken prisoner.
During an extensive offensive, Soviet forces liberated the territory of Belarus, eastern Poland, and part of the Baltics, routing the German armies' group "Centre". Operation Bagration contributed to successes of the Allied troops in Normandy.
Putin considers that Belarus played a special role in the victory over fascism, since the Republic was the first to face the Hitlerites. Combat operations were conducted in the republic's territory throughout the War.
When visiting Khatyn ten years ago, the President of Russia said, "We know about the tremendous sacrifices that Belarus made during the War years. It was precisely over here that the liberation of our Motherland was started". He emphasized then that "Belarus was not enslaved. It fought continuously. We know about those sacrifices and we shall never forget about them, just as we shall never forget one of the Second World War battles Operation Bagration".
The stocks of the new building of the Minsk-based Museum of the History of GPW are not limited to the WWII period but also span the historic period from 1920 to 1950. The Museum's exhibits are accommodated in ten halls and in the main one Victory Hall. The Museum's new building has been constructed on Winners' Avenue behind the Hero City Minsk architectural and sculptural complex. The nearby Heroes' Square will be enhanced with a fountain of 170 spouts, each dedicated to one of inhabited localities of Belarus liberated by the Red Army during the War, and with a Victory Park.
Putin's Wednesday trip is also associated with yet another memorable date: July 3 is marked in Belarus as the Republic Independence Day.