On May 19, 2018, during his visit to the Artek International Children’s Center, Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad met with Alexander Peshkov, the son of a Hero of Russia who was killed in a military operation in Syria in 2015.
The boy approached the ambassador during the latter’s visit to Artek in order to extend his wishes to the Syrian people. The boy said: “I wish tranquility and peace to Syria, and I wish that wars would never happen.” The boy said that Syria has become a close country to him. “I hold Syria close to my heart,” he added, sharing his feelings with the ambassador.
On his part, Riyad Haddad said that “the Syrian people remember and honor the heroic deed” of his father. Joining in the conversation, First Deputy Chair of the Combat Brotherhood and State Duma Deputy Dmitry Sablin said: “When I met with Bashar Assad, I heard him call your father a true hero, saying that people like him are few and far between. Alexander, the Syrian president wished you good health and strength.”
Riyad Haddad also met with Director of Artek Alexei Kasprzhak, who told him that “Artek is always hospitable to children from Syria, so they immediately get into the atmosphere of goodwill, make friends and, as a rule, start feeling at home very quickly.” Director Kasprzhak added that not only does Artek create conditions for young Syrians to enjoy their holidays, but it also provides educational opportunities, so that children can acquire new knowledge and skills. “They can attend any hobby group, laboratory or creative studio available at Artek,” he said.
Riyad Haddad thanked the director for what Artek is doing to “receive the children of heroes who sacrificed their lives for Syria.” He said: “Perhaps, in this way we make things a bit easier for them, giving them the opportunity to feel happy and enjoy a peaceful life.” The ambassador said that the “Russian Federation is a country of peace” and that “the cultural and educational links between Syria and Russia will continue to develop.” A tree he planted at Artek will be a symbol of the development of these ties.
The ambassador asked 10 Syrian children visiting Artek about what they liked at the center most of all. “We have so many friends now!” the children eagerly replied, adding that “there were so many interesting things at Artek.” Dmitry Sablin said: “Most of all, I was happy to meet with the children in our charge – they are the children of Syrian servicemen killed in action and the children of Russian servicemen who were killed while on a combat mission in Syria. Artek has put smiles back on their faces.”
General Director of the Social and Cultural Initiatives Foundation Dmitry Solovyov, who helped Syrian children visiting Artek during the fifth session to become participants of the Eternal Flame Assembly, called Artek a territory of friendship and mutual understanding.” He said: “Three Syrian children, who only speak and understand Arabic, volunteered to help guests plant a tree. Although by that time they had already learned a few Russian words, that was definitely not enough to maintain a dialogue and understand one another. Before long, the children hit on an ingenious solution, starting to sing Katyusha. Suddenly, children from other countries joined in the song and the chorus sounded so beautiful. Later, the children spoke about the War Songs music contest that was held a day earlier where they were awarded the grand prize for their performance of the song Katyusha in Syrian. This is an unforgettable and touching event that allows us all to speak one language and understand one another, and I will remember it for many years to come.”