Putin lays wreath at Tomb of Unknown Soldier to mark Defender of Fatherland Day

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, February 23. /TASS/. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall on Saturday morning. The traditional ceremony is dedicated to Defender of the Fatherland Day, which Russia celebrates on February 23.

The ceremony also featured Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speakers of the Federation Council and the State Duma Valentina Matviyenko and Vyacheslav Volodin, as well as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Members of veteran organizations, government officials, politicians and members of parliament also laid flowers at the tomb.

The Russian president and other participants of the ceremony honored the memory of all the fallen defenders of the Fatherland.

Defender of the Fatherland Day

February 23 marks Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia.

Since 1923, February 23 has marked Red Army and Navy Day. In 1946-1992, the holiday was celebrated as Soviet Army and Navy Day, but in 1993 it was renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day.

In 2002, February 23 was declared a non-working day for the first time.

On Defender of the Fatherland Day, various ceremonies involving veterans are usually held, which among other things include laying flowers at war memorials. At night, celebratory gunfire and fireworks take place in Hero Cities (a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during World War II to 12 USSR cities and the Brest Fortress) and municipalities hosting the headquarters of district military commands, fleets and all-arms armies. The holiday is meant to honor military servicemen but it actually celebrates men on the whole, regardless of their age and profession.

Apart from Russia, several other former Soviet states (Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and South Ossetia) also celebrate February 23 as a holiday.

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