Russian TV airs names of 12M of WWII dead ahead of anniversary

Moscow: A Russian news channel is broadcasting the names of more than 12 million Soviet soldiers killed during World War II, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in May.

The unprecedented move by the state-controlled Rossiya 24 news channel reflects the Kremlin’s efforts to use the conflict to stir national pride.

The initiative was launched on “Defender of the Fatherland Day” — February 23 — and is timed to end May 8.

The next day is Victory Day in Russia when tanks roll and infantry march through Red Square to mark the end of the war in Europe.

Russia is set to hold large-scale celebrations this year, 75 years after the Allied victory over the Nazis.

The USSR suffered particularly heavy losses of some 27 million people, according to official figures.

Rossiya 24 said its aim was to commemorate Soviet heroes “regardless of rank”.

It said the project would “create a factual basis to counter attempts to falsify the history of the war”.

Russia has frequently accused Western countries of downplaying its contribution to defeating the Nazis despite the huge Soviet losses.

Tensions with some countries have risen ahead of the May 9 anniversary, in particular with Poland, which President Vladimir Putin recently accused of collaborating with Hitler.

Warsaw has in turn accused Moscow of “renewing Stalinist propaganda”.

The names of 12,677,857 soldiers killed and missing from the war are being aired on Rossiya 24 around the clock in black and orange, colours associated with the Russian military.

The names are listed on the right hand side of the screen, scrolling from top to bottom under the heading “Remember Each One,” with 6,070 appearing per hour.

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