“Save Alyosha”: Proposals and Practices Presented by the Participants of the International Forum on the Preservation of Historical Memory

12/04/2024 15:51

On April 11, 2024, on the Day of the Liberation of Prisoners of Nazi Concentration Camps, the headquarters of the Eurasian Peoples’ Assembly in Moscow hosted the 25th session of the International Public Forum on Preserving the Memory of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War: “Let’s Save Alyosha”.

The Eurasian Peoples' Assembly and the Association "International Association of High School Alumni under the Central Committee of the Komsomol" organized this Forum in support of social movements in Russia and Bulgaria advocating the preservation of the monument to the Soviet liberator "Alyosha" in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), as a symbol of human unity in the common victory of peoples over fascism.

It is significant that the conference brought together several countries at once: in addition to a number of Russian regions, participants from Armenia, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, Russia, Uzbekistan, France and others got in touch with Moscow. In Bulgaria, the city of Plovdiv and the Bulgarian capital – Sofia joined the event.

The co-organizers of the venue were: Organizations - members of the Coordination Council “Russia-Bulgaria” (Sofia), All-Russian public organization “Union of Friends of Bulgaria”, Foundation for the Development of International Integration Processes “Open World”.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of government bodies, the scientific and expert community, specialized regional organizations, public figures from Russia, Europe and the CIS.

At the very beginning of the event, the tone for the entire discussion was set by a musical composition: young students of the Bulgarian, Soviet and Russian pop singer, People's Artist of the Russian Federation (2012) Bedros Kirkorov performed the famous song by Eduard Kolmanovsky based on the verses of Konstantin Vanshenkin, “Alyosha,” dedicated to the monument to the Soviet soldier.

The Forum was moderated by: from the Russian side - Valery Ruzin, Deputy Secretary General of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly, President of the Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio; from Bulgarian - Stanka Shopova, Chairman of the Foundation for Sustainable Development of Bulgaria.

Starting the dialogue platform, Valery Ruzin noted: “Today, responsible members of society have gathered together. A serious problem certainly requires coordinated action and an active position of civil society.”

He read out a greeting from Grigory Karasin, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs: “Our task is to objectively resist attempts to rewrite world history in favor of the short-term geopolitical interests of the collective West.”

The official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Maria Zakharova, very clearly outlined the depth of the problem and the importance of uniting all forces to solve it:

“On the part of the West and the elites controlled by it, it is public organizations and movements in these unfriendly countries that bear the great and extremely important task of preserving historical memory. The support of the Forum from social movements in Bulgaria is especially important in this regard, because it is the Bulgarian, US-oriented elites, largely set up by them, who are putting pressure on local city and municipal authorities with the demand - as they formulated it - “to topple the Russian monument!” - the legendary Plovdiv Alyosha. It became a symbol for generations of Bulgarians and for half a century was a reminder of the feat of the Soviet Army, which, together with the Bulgarian partisans, cleansed this beautiful country of fascist filth.

We believe that local residents in Plovdiv and other Bulgarian cities will not allow this monument to be destroyed, just as they did not allow the enemies of our common history, the enemies of our memory in 1989, and in 1993, and in 1996, when there were calls for dismantling Alyosha.

The Bulgarian authorities should not follow the path of the nationalist initiatives of the Kyiv regime if they do not want neo-Nazis, the heirs of Hitler’s minions, marching through the streets of Sofia. The same applies to all European states, on whose territory there are monuments to the Soviet soldier-liberator and the graves of those who died for the freedom of Europe and the world. There is no other option and cannot be.”

“The topic of today’s meeting is more relevant than ever,” noted Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova in her greeting to the meeting participants: “The falsification of history and the fight against monuments launched in the West are a sad sign of our time. From being the locus of lessons and experience, the past has become a malleable object, manipulated according to immediate selfish interests. “Inconvenient” pages of textbooks are being rewritten, replacing them with opportunistic narratives. Documents and facts are neglected in favor of bloc hierarchy and discipline.

All the processes described above, unfortunately, are also characteristic of Bulgaria, with which we are connected by a century and a half of close interstate interaction, spiritual and cultural closeness. It is gratifying that not everyone in the country supports this trend. In this regard, I would like to thank all the participants of the Forum from Bulgaria, who are making active efforts to counter the falsification of history and are working to preserve our common monuments.”

The Forum participants, on the one hand - emotionally, on the other - based on specific facts, discussed ways to attract the attention of the general public to the problems of preserving the historical heritage of peoples in the name of the national interests of each country and preventing falsification of the truth about the common heroic past, as the basis for promising cooperation in the present and the future.

Deputy Secretary General of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly, President of the Eurasian Academy of Television and Radio Valery Ruzin emphasized that, in fact, now the world is making a choice as a whole - which path of development it will follow:

“The preservation of memory is a question of what path the development of Eurasian co-operation will take. Will we calmly observe and accept the growing attempts to pervert history or will we join forces to prevent it.

Shall we say that the erosion of historical memory leads to the destruction of culture? I would say that the demolition of monuments, especially those that are a symbol of the shed blood for the liberation of Europe and the world from Nazism and fascism, from the anti-human brown plague, is one of the types of terrorism - cultural terrorism, which has become in a number of countries - especially in the Baltic countries, almost fashionable.

Today we understand that history forms an atmosphere that determines values, worldview and behavior, including in politics. History becomes the wind that blows into the sails that move humanity into the future. And this future must be free from Nazism and fascism.”

In the speeches of public figures in Bulgaria, the main leitmotif sounded: “Bulgaria must necessarily be together with Russia. This is not only the future of our countries, but of all humanity.”
Chairman of the Bulgarian Anti-Fascist Union Evgeniy Beliy cited survey figures - 85% of Plovdiv residents are categorically against the demolition of Alyosha. He proposed to involve all public organizations of the UN and UNESCO to protect the monument to the soldier-liberator.

Deputy Secretary General of the Eurasian Peoples' Assembly, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, co-chairman of the all-Russian movement "For the Saving the People", Doctor of Philosophy Alexandra Ochirova outlined the deepest roots of the problem and everyone's responsibility to the future.

“The world is filled not only with development opportunities, but also with the risks that almost every nation, every person feels. A special place in these risks is occupied not only by man-made disasters, epidemics, risks of a natural nature, internal political characteristics that every nation has, but also by risks of an ideological nature, the first place of which, in my opinion, is fascism, terrorism, nationalism, religious intolerance.

Of course, “Alyosha,” like all other monuments, is not only a symbol, but also a meaning. The deepest meaning that every person today must understand in terms of the risk that fascism carries, which today has the form of neo-fascism in many countries.

War has always been present in the history of mankind, there have always been borderline situations, and humanity has always found a way out of there with the help of order, law, morality, religion and the values on which it was based. This should not be forgotten."

And, precisely, the goal of the Forum is to unite all efforts, to create a broad public movement for the preservation of monuments to liberating soldiers, as the most important part of the cultural heritage and heroic pages of common history, affirming the contribution of the peoples of our countries to the Victory over Nazism.

During the four hours that the conference lasted, many specific proposals were made to support the initiatives of the international community to preserve the monument to the Soviet soldier-liberator “Alyosha” in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), as a symbol of human unity in the common Victory over fascism; partnership mechanisms of all interested international actors - government, business, cultural bodies, education, public organizations, as well as private initiatives in order to counter the demolition of Soviet monuments in European countries; new practices of countering attempts to rewrite and falsify history, hushing up or belittling the exploits of the Red Army; new formats for preserving the memory of the Second World War and the joint feat of peoples in liberating the world from fascism.

With the support of the Governor of the Altai Territory and the Altai Community Organization, direct inclusion was organized from the “Novobikhenskaya Secondary School named after A.I. Skurlatov”. Nelly Alekseevna Kuirukova, daughter of Aleksei Skurlatov, addressed the Forum participants. She shared memories of her father’s many years of friendship with the residents of Plovdiv and thanked the forum participants for their contribution to a common peaceful future.

One of the interesting accents heard at the conference was Alexandra Ochirova’s proposal for the humanitarian modernization of modern society:

“It should be said that many countries, after the liberation of our civilization from fascism, did not agree at some conferences, such as at the conference in Yalta in 1945, on how to deal with those countries that allow themselves such a barbaric step as the revival of the fascist concepts in their own territory. It would be necessary to reach an agreement against them! But it was missed. Apparently on an emotional level. Because it never occurred to anyone that this horror could happen again. That’s when we need universal sanctions against countries that allow themselves to become the basis for the emergence of such concepts that destroy humanity.

Maybe then there wouldn’t be such concepts as the “golden billion” and the like.”

At the end of the session of the International Public Forum on preserving the memory of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War "Save Alyosha" a resolution will be adopted, where the organizers will collect all the proposals voiced and determine further steps for their implementation.