ASTANA – Numerous festivities and events were held across the country May 7 during Defender of the Fatherland Day and two days later to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II.
The Second World War devastated tens of millions of lives across the globe and united countries in the fight against the Nazi regime. Although Kazakhstan did not experience military action on its soil, more than 1.2 million Kazakhs were drafted to the frontlines of the Great Patriotic War, as the conflict was called in the Soviet Union, and an estimated half of that number perished in the fighting.
Five hundred individuals from Kazakhstan became Heroes of the Soviet Union, four were awarded with the title twice and more than 100 became Cavaliers of the Order of Glory, while many others went missing and never returned home. Kazakh heroes Rakhimzhan Koshkarbayev and Gregory Bulatov were the first soldiers to hoist the victory banner over the Reichstag in Berlin.
In total, Kazakhstan assembled 12 rifle regiments, four cavalry divisions, seven infantry brigades and 50 separate regiments and battalions for the Soviet frontline, reported Kazakh TV.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev participated May 7 in the country’s largest military parade in history. According to Kazakh TV, it was a demonstration of the achievements of the nation’s Armed Forces. Approximately 5,000 soldiers of various troops, nearly 200 pieces of hardware and 70 aircraft took part in the parade and paid their dues to the veterans along the capital’s Kazakh Eli Square.
“Symbolically, the two holidays follow one another,” said Nazarbayev in his opening remarks. “This shows the continuity of military traditions between the World War II winners and the current generation of defenders of our land. Military valour at the frontlines and selfless labour in the homefront were the main pillars of the victory. I heartily congratulate all the war and labour veterans on the anniversary of the great victory. Your lives and heroic feats will be remembered in all times. The memories and stories about your heroism will be passed on from generation to generation.”
The parade featured modern tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and howitzers. The newly-acquired combat vehicles Tiger, Solntsepyok and Cobra, Eurocopter EC145 helicopters manufactured in Kazakhstan and Sukhoi Su-30 SM jet fighters were also included in the procession. The show was sealed when the pilots put on the number 70 to honour the significant date – the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II.
Almaty residents gathered at the 28 Panfilov Heroes Memorial Park to commemorate the more than 27 million Soviet human losses in that war. Every year, people traditionally lay wreaths and flowers at the eternal flame.
In Taraz, World War II veterans received new apartments in lower-floor complexes with special doorway ramps for easy accessibility, reported Kazakh TV. More than 50 veterans have been provided with housing in the last three years.
“I am happy to celebrate the 70th anniversary of victory in good health and good mood,” said veteran Madibek Makulbekov in an interview with Kazakh TV. “The government has always been taking care of us, our health and living conditions. We are honoured, respected and valued. These human values have always been preserved and will be preserved in the future. Our young people are smart and wise. I believe they will keep these traditions.”
Several thousand Kazakh Internet users organised their own festival voluntarily by meeting with the veterans, singing war songs and presenting gifts. It is estimated that up to 5,000 veterans still live in Kazakhstan today.