Italy Commemorates Russian Soldier

CANTALUPO LIGURE, ITALY (RIA Novosti) — "Fedor Poletayev: Russian Hero of Italian Resistance", is the name of a Novosti photograph exposition which opened in Cantalupo Ligure, tiny town in the North Italian highlands.

The show is part of a nationwide Poletayev commemoration program on his 60th death anniversary. The valiant soldier fought in the renowned Battle of Moscow, 1941. Captured by the enemy during the following year’s Don operation, he escaped from a POW camp in 1944 to join a guerrilla detachment in Northern Italy. Fedor died a hero’s death, February 2, 1945, to rescue his comrades-in-arms from an impending encirclement in the vicinity of Cantalupo Ligure. One of the few Soviet nationals to win the supreme Italian martial award, Gold Medal for Military Merits, he was posthumously awarded his native country’s highest martial title, Hero of the Soviet Union.

A public rally commemorated Poletayev and other Soviet heroes of the Italian Resistance. It gathered at the town Sports Palace, which hosts the exposition. Attending the event was Pier Ferdinando Casini, President of the Chamber of Deputies, the Italian parliament’s lower house. There were other guests of honor-governors of several North Italian provinces, city mayors, and a delegation of the Ryazan Region in Central Russia, Fedor Poletayev’s native land. Leading the delegation was Georgi Shpak, regional governor. Fedor Poletayev, Jr., the hero’s grandson, was the most welcome guest of all.

"Ever more years are putting the grim days of World War II at an ever greater distance from us. War veterans are passing away, yet their memory rests evergreen. We live as long as we remember, runs an old saying. It is right a thousand times. Those we are commemorating live on in our memory. This exposition exemplifies our reverential memory," said Alexei Meshkov, Russian Ambassador to Italy, as he was opening the show.

Poletayev was not an only Soviet soldier to fight nazisside by side with Italian guerrillas. More than five thousand escaped Soviet POWs had joined the Resistance. Four hundred of them died in action to be interred in Italy, Pier Ferdinando Casini emphatically said.

The Fedor Poletayev exposition is itinerant. It will appear in Piedmont’s Alessandria and in Genoa within this month next to travel all about the country from Liguria to Sicily.