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Russian World War 2 veteran, 100, calls for peace on Victory Day

Updated : May 09, 2019 10:09 AM IST

Centenarian World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev will be among Russians across the country commemorating the anniversary of the war's end on Thursday. He told his story to his granddaughter, Reuters Moscow bureau reporter Olesya Astakhova. "A starving peace is better than a well-fed war," says 100-year-old decorated World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev. As Russia on Thursday marks the 74th Victory Day since the end of World War Two in Europe, with nationwide events headlined by a vast military parade on Red Square, he will be among millions across the country celebrating the occasion. Born in 1918, not long after the Bolshevik Revolution, Bagayev lived through many of the tumultuous chapters of the Soviet Union in the 20th century and was twice wounded - once gravely - in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. He spent much of the war in forests near Moscow, fought in the Battle of Moscow, and later took part in the Soviet Red Army's assault on Koenigsberg, then part of Nazi Germany and now, as part of Russia, known as Kaliningrad. After the war, he worked in the steppes of the Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, living at first in a tent, and helped to build the cosmodrome, now known as Baikonur, that sent the first man - Yuri Gagarin - into space in 1961. Bagayev now lives in Korolyov, a town outside Moscow and draws a veteran's pension of 40,000 roubles ($613) a month, much higher than the national average. Despite his years, he remains active and can be seen around town, sometimes donning a uniform festooned with medals. He uses a mobile phone and a laptop and occasionally poses for selfies with locals. The Soviet Union that he lived in for most of his life is long gone but, almost three decades after its breakup, he remains a committed communist and continues to make contributions to the opposition Communist Party.

World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, pauses as he heads to his home, in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, pauses as he heads to his home, in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, poses for a picture dressed in his uniform, in front of his apartment block in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, poses for a picture dressed in his uniform, in front of his apartment block in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Medals belonging to World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev are shown in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Medals belonging to World War Two veteran Nikolay Bagayev are shown in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, waits at a bus stop as he heads to the local office of Communist Party of Russia to join May Day celebrations in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, waits at a bus stop as he heads to the local office of Communist Party of Russia to join May Day celebrations in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, attends a meeting in a cafe with other veterans in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, attends a meeting in a cafe with other veterans in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, makes a call on his mobile phone at his apartment in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, makes a call on his mobile phone at his apartment in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, shows an old photograph of himself, his wife and two children in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, shows an old photograph of himself, his wife and two children in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, walks in a school in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, walks in a school in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, talks to pupils about his experiences of the war at a school in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, talks to pupils about his experiences of the war at a school in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Members of a local branch of the Communist Party of Russia lay flowers at a monument of Vladimir Lenin to mark May Day in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Members of a local branch of the Communist Party of Russia lay flowers at a monument of Vladimir Lenin to mark May Day in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, leaves a food store after May Day celebrations, in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, leaves a food store after May Day celebrations, in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, speaks to his friend Alexander Guselnikov in front of the local office of the Communist Party of Russia, before May Day celebrations in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, speaks to his friend Alexander Guselnikov in front of the local office of the Communist Party of Russia, before May Day celebrations in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, walks in the street in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov 
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, walks in the street in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov 
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, rests in his apartment in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov 
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, rests in his apartment in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov 
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, selects Communist Party newspapers to distribute them to his neighbors, at the local office of Communist Party of Russia, in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, selects Communist Party newspapers to distribute them to his neighbors, at the local office of Communist Party of Russia, in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, walks down the stairs in his apartment block in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. Bagayev regularly takes the stairs to his apartment on the 5th floor. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, walks down the stairs in his apartment block in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 18, 2019. Bagayev regularly takes the stairs to his apartment on the 5th floor. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Local residents take a selfie with Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, during May Day celebrations in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Local residents take a selfie with Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, during May Day celebrations in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, meets members of Yunarmia in his apartment in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Veteran Nikolay Bagayev, 100, meets members of Yunarmia in his apartment in Korolyov, north of Moscow, Russia April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
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