PRAGUE, May 3. /TASS/. The former Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism and no one will ever be able to call this fact in question, Czech President Milos Zeman said in an interview with TASS on Sunday.
"A heaviest burden fell to the Soviet Union’s lot in World War Two. If it were not for the Soviet Union, battles against fascists would have been fought on the American continent as well," he said, citing the memoirs of U.S. General George Marshall who had called for the soonest launch of the second front in Europe.
The Czech leader will take part in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in WWII due to take place in Moscow on May 9. He will arrive in the Russian capital a day before the VE-Day Parade, on May 8. "I am coming to Moscow with a feeling of deep respect and admiration of those who lost their lives for the victory in the Great Patriotic War [of 1941-1945] - of Soviet soldiers and civilians. The exact number of Soviet people killed in that war is not known even now. It ranges from 20 to 27 million," Zeman said.
While in Moscow, Zeman plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian politicians and veterans. Bilateral contacts with foreign delegations to the Moscow celebrations are not ruled out. "I attach biggest importance to my meetings with Russian representatives. I hope I will have a meeting with President Putin. A number of bilateral talks are expected but their preparations have not yet been completed," he said.
When asked why he had decided not to be present at the Victory Parade, Zeman said he was coming "to venerate those dead but not those alive." "Such events as parade, concert, fireworks, etc. concern to my mind those alive. The most important thing for me is to pay tribute to the memory of Soviet citizens who were killed during the Great Patriotic War. This is the essence of my visit. This was the purpose of my visit to Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. That is why I will go to Wsterplatte [peninsula in Gdansk, Poland, located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth of the Dead Vistula], where World War Two started," the Czech president said.
He said on his Moscow visit he would be accompanied by Czech WWII veterans. "We plan to meet with Russian war veterans," Zeman added.