In his speech, Mr. Putin said: “Although this holiday was established only several years ago, the event which it celebrates is centuries-old. The victory of 1612 was very important for Russia, because it put an end to a long period of political instability in the country.”
“In their history, Russians often had to face many hardships,” Mr. Putin cntinues. “But they always won because they felt themselves to be one whole. They loved their country and felt themselves responsible for its future. Russians should never forget their centuries-old traditions of unity.”
On November 4, Russia celebrates 400 years since Moscow was liberated from Polish invaders in 1612. This victory put an end to a long period of political instability in Russia. Since 2004, November 4 is celebrated as the Day of Unity of Russian People.
This Sunday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin laid flowers to the monument to Duke Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who leaded the Russians’ resistance to Poles in 1612. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill and leaders of other religious confessions in Russia also took part in the ceremony.
Earlier, Patriarch Kirill performed a church service in front of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan. The icon had been brought from St. Petersburg, where it is preserved now, to Moscow especially for this occasion.
It is believed that in 1612, this icon protected the Russians who resisted the Poles.
Russia marks People’s Unity Day on Sunday, a national holiday to commemorate the 1612 expulsion of Polish invaders from Moscow by the volunteer army of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin.
Later in the day, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is to perform divine service at the Assumption Cathedral in Moscow, an event that will see the much-revered Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan brought to the Cathedral.
Also on Sunday, President Vladimir Putin will lay flowers at the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky on Moscow’s Red Square. The ceremony will be attended by the heads of the main four religious confessions of Russia.
A whole array of cultural events will take place in Moscow on the occasion of People’s Unity Day, including the premiere of an opera by prominent Russian composer Georgy Dmitriyev.
Voice of Russia, RIA, TASS
This year celebrations of National Unity Day in Russia are going to be particularly solemn as Sunday will mark 400 years since the liberation of Moscow from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1612.
That period of Russian history is known as the Time of Trouble, when the country was on the brink of collapse. The nation, however, found strength to unite and defend its independence. To commemorate the events a new state holiday was established in Russia in 2005- National Unity Day.
There are two monuments on Red Square in Moscow symbolizing the victory over Polish invaders: the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky and Kazan Cathedral. A recent survey by VTSIOM (Russia`s Public Opinion Research Center) shows that fifty percent of the respondents do not know what is celebrated on November 4.
Leonid Reshetnikov, director at the Institute of Strategic Studies: “Nevertheless, love for the Motherland is what unites Russians nowadays as before. Love for the country, for home and family- these are things that remain important and altogether comprise the notion of what is known as Motherland.”
Candidate of Philosophy, Ilya Vevyurko, thinks that before trying to find out what unity is one should look back and understand what caused a gap we are witnessing today. “I think that this gap was caused by the decline of institutions of upbringing and education. If a trend towards segregation in education continues, this will result in a much stronger social separation.”
Doctor in History, Alexander Tsipko, believes that Russian nation can stay united only by sharing responsibility for the future of the country. “Russia has been recovering from the Soviet Union`s collapse. If we long to see our country competitive on international scene it could trigger the reunion process.”
History shows that Russian nation stayed united in times of trouble, whether it was in 1612, in 1812 during the Napoleonic invasion or during WW II. Strange as it might seem, staying together turns out to be more difficult in peaceful times. Perhaps, National Unity Day could teach us more about it.