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Russia needs to return to military education: Medvedev

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday the country must return to a “military-patriotic” education, in comments on the eve of Monday’s grandiose Victory Day celebrations.

“We have unfortunately seen a void in military-patriotic education due to difficulties the country has gone through, but we are now ready to fill this gap,” the president said as he met with World War II veterans.

“It’s always good for the education of young generations. It is very important that we feel we are the inhabitants of a large and complex nation, but a large nation. Nothing unites people as much,” he said in televised comments.

Russia celebrates victory in the Great Patriotic War, its domestic term for World War II, on May 9. The festivities in Moscow will include a military parade including thousands of soldiers, musicians and an impressive array of military hardware.

Medvedev said “military-patriotic games” needed to be organised for students to be able to touch engines and war objects with their own hands.

After drinking a shot of vodka in a symbolic gesture with the veterans, the president wrote in a guest book at Moscow’s Central Armed Forces Museum where the meeting took place: “We won because we were strong, and the cause of our people was just.”

Medvedev, 45, was born 20 years after the end of the war, in 1965. That makes him part a generation whose education during the Soviet era included classes in Marxist-Leninism — and compulsory military training.

Over the past few years a growing number of voices have called for the return of military education, which disappeared with the fall of the Soviet regime in 1991.

More than 25 million Soviet citizens died during World War II, and Russian officials have regularly accused Western historians of minimising the role of the Soviet Union in the victory against Germany’s Nazi government.

The Western Allied nations celebrate Victory Day on May 8 and Russia the following day due to time difference between the regions.