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#36 - JRL 2008-24 - JRL Home
Russia to have military missions in 7 countries

MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) - Russia plans to open military missions in 2008 in countries where there are Russian military graves, a Defense Ministry press release quoted Maj. Gen. Alexander Kirillin, head of the Military Memorial Center of the Russian Armed Forces, as saying.

The plan is based on a decree by President Vladimir Putin to that effect, which was issued a decree on October 1, 2007.

A government directive has been drafted to enforce the decree.

There would be seven such missions altogether - in Romania, Hungary, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, China and Lithuania.

Russia has applied to various countries for permission to have its military missions in them, the release said.

"We are awaiting replies. All the funds for 2008 are available. The department in the Polish Republic, which has existed since 1993, is continuing to carry out its task," it said.

"Missions of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation are needed to drastically improve the condition of our military graves and memorials. Those on the territory of 24 states in Europe alone are the burial sites for more than 2.5 million Soviet soldiers who fell during the [World War II]. More than 80% of those buried at the cemeteries are listed as unknown, 7,500 burial sites have been explored, and 4,519 have been registered. The situation with memorials dating to World War I and other international military conflict is even worse," the release quoted Kirillin as saying.

"At the request of the Ministry of Defense, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent inquiries to our embassies in the countries where missions are planned to open," Kirillin said.

Replies have come from Poland, China and Germany saying "there are difficulties with using embassy space for the missions," he said. "This is confirmed by information from the Goszagransobstvennost enterprise, which does not possess space in Romania that is usable [for the mission] ."

There is a proposal to use what is currently residential space in the Czech Republic and Hungary, but that "needs additional analysis, and there are also some difficulties in Germany and China," the general said.