Wreath-laying at Soviet War Memorial cancelled over Ukraine war

The annual Victory Day commemoration held each May at the Soviet War Memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park - and usually supported by the Russian Embassy - has been cancelled amid controversy over the invasion of Ukraine.

Wreath-laying at Soviet War Memorial cancelled over Ukraine war
A previous Victory Day ceremony in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park

The Soviet War Memorial stands in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park near the Imperial War Museum and three civic wreath-laying ceremonies are held each year – in January for Holocaust Memorial Day, in May for Victory Day and in November for Remembrance Sunday.

These ceremonies are attended by an eclectic mix of people, from local politicians, civic leaders and British veterans, to diplomats from former Soviet republics, representatives of left-wing organisations, communist parties and Red Army reenactment groups.

The May event is usually the largest, and is often followed by refreshments hosted by the Russian Embassy.

Former Bermondey & Old Southwark MP Sir Simon Hughes, a long-time supporter of the events at the Soviet War Memorial, wrote to the Mayor of Southwark and council leader calling for the council – which owns the land on which the memorial stands – to move this year's commemoration from 9 May (known as Victory Day in Russia) to 8 May, the date known as VE Day in the rest of Europe, and for Russia and Belarus to not be invited to participate.

This week a statement was issued by the charity which established the memorial: "It is with regret that the Trustees of the Soviet War Memorial Trust (SWMT) inform you that the SWMT will not be organising an event at the Soviet War Memorial in May 2022.

"The Soviet War Memorial is dedicated to all of the 27 million Soviet civilians and military personnel who died for Allied victory in World War II."

Tags: Southwark, History, Politics & local government

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