Putin joins ceremonies marking 80th anniversary of Battle of Stalingrad

Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Volgograd on Thursday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Before Putin’s arrival in Volgograd – known as Stalingrad between 1925 and 1961 – local authorities carried out last-minute repairs to the Astrakhan bridge from the city and in a hurry covered poorly maintained downtown buildings with giant awnings. Stray animals were also would have removed from the street andLocal residents experienced interruptions in mobile phone services, according to local news outlet V1.Ru.

Volgograd region governor Andrei Bocharov was reportedly quarantined before his meeting with Putin, according to local media V1.Ru, and had not been seen in public for a week.

Upon his arrival on Thursday, Putin laid eternal flame flowers on Mamayev Kurgan, a hill where much of the fighting took place that now houses the ‘Battle of Stalingrad’ museum complex and with the city’s famous statue ‘The Motherland Calls”.

On Wednesday, a new monument to Soviet leader Josef Stalin was also unveiled in the city – the second contemporary monument in Volgograd dedicated to the Soviet dictator.

Stalingrad was the most important battle of World War II and lasted from August 1942 to February 1943, killing around 2 million. The battle ended with the surrender of Hitler’s 6th Army, the first capitulation of German forces in the conflict, which ultimately led to Allied victory over Nazi Germany two years later.

The city’s name was changed to Volgograd in 1961 as part of the de-Stalinization process, although in recent years the city has reverted to the name Stalingrad on major holidays and anniversaries.

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