(CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin praised participants in what he euphemistically called his “special military operation” in Ukraine and said Russia “will be stronger” in his New Year address to the nation, as several Russian cities announced they had canceled celebrations. In solidarity with the Belgorod attack.
“Today I would like to address our military personnel, all those on combat duty, at the forefront of the struggle for truth and justice. You are our heroes,” Putin said.
He said, “We have proven more than once that we are capable of solving the most difficult problems and we will never back down. Because there is no force that can separate us, make us lose the memory and faith of our fathers, and stop our development.” . He said, “We are a country, and a big family. We will ensure the safe development of the nation, the well-being of our citizens, and we will be stronger.” “We are together. This is the most reliable guarantee of Russia's future.”
Putin's New Year's speech was broadcast just before midnight local time in all 11 Russian time zones.
This year, Putin addressed the nation with a traditional speech from the Kremlin. Last year, he spoke from the headquarters of Russia's Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, surrounded by military personnel, according to state news agency TASS.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also issued his New Year message, congratulating the military for their courage and “selfless service.”
But despite upbeat messages from the country's top leaders, the new mood in many cities across the country appears bleak, following what Russian officials say was an attack by the Ukrainian military on the city of Belgorod, in which people were killed. At least 24 people and 107 others were injured.
Several Russian cities canceled public events and celebrations in solidarity with the residents of Belgorod, as public events were also cancelled.
Saint Petersburg city authorities decided not to hold a New Year's party on Palace Square as a sign of support for the residents of the Belgorod region. This was announced by Governor Alexander Beglov, according to TASS.
“In half a day I received dozens of letters from residents with this request and I am sure that the entire city of St. Petersburg will support this decision. All children's holidays will be celebrated according to the calendar, and no one will take holidays from our children,” said Beglov.
He added that he spoke with the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, and offered to help, according to TASS.
The authorities in the western city of Penza also canceled New Year's celebrations in the city center due to the bombing of Belgorod, as the city's mayor, Alexander Basenko, announced on his channel on the Telegram application.
“As a show of solidarity with our compatriots and their tragedy, we will reduce the city's holiday program. The changes will not affect children's events, but the New Year's Eve celebrations scheduled on Lenin Square will be cancelled,” he said.
The authorities of Suzdal in the Vladimir region canceled New Year's fireworks due to the bombing of Belgorod, the press service of the city administration reported, according to TASS.
All festive events in the Butorlinovsky border district of the Voronezh region were also canceled due to the bombing of Belgorod, according to TASS, citing the region's administration.
Vologda Mayor Sergei Vorobanov announced that Vologda authorities also canceled New Year's Eve festive events, which were scheduled for January 1 and 2 in the Kremlin Square after the bombing of Belgorod. Vorobanov noted that the tragedy in Belgorod, which occurred on December 30, did not leave anyone indifferent, according to TASS.
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