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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Petersburg Gears Up for Celebrations

ST. PETERSBURG -- The St. Petersburg authorities are preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany with a series of cultural and ceremonial events ranging from film festivals to a victorious fireworks display over the Neva River.


"Our most important task from the very start was to make sure we didn't reduce our celebration of the 50th anniversary of the great victory to one event," said Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. "We tried instead to create within this celebration a system of social security for our veterans, cleaning and restoration of our cemeteries and memorials of the war, and a means of teaching the next generation about the Great Victory."


In accordance with federal law, the city has allotted 384 billion rubles ($76 million) to programs designed to aid the thousands of city residents who fought or lived through the terror of the 900-day siege of Leningrad. Veterans will be awarded commemorative medals and receive a 100,000-ruble bonus.


They will also be treated to free entrance to film festivals and concerts of works devoted to the Soviet struggle and victory in the war.


In preparation, the city has held three subbotniki, or Saturday work days, urging its citizens to lend a hand in brightening the city.


Thirty million rubles has been spent sprucing up buildings, bridges and streets, now decked in bright banners.


Festivities begin Sunday, when a monument will be unveiled in Victory Park to Soviet Army Marshal Georgy Zhukov, the hero credited with saving the city from the Nazis.


New books dedicated to veterans' memoirs and victims of Stalin's repressions have been published.


Although the international spotlight will be on Moscow, St. Petersburg will have its share of international guests. U.S. military officers and veterans will spend several days in the city meeting and honoring their colleagues. International warships will parade along the Neva on Monday.


Veterans will march along Nevsky Prospekt on Tuesday and later take part in a "theatrical march-parade."


The holiday's close will be met with a fireworks show against the backdrop of the Peter and Paul Fortress.