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Russia to Kim: Here, Have a Medal

Moscow has decided to honor Kim Jong Un's commemoration of WWII Soviet soldiers
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2020 7:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has given a commemorative World War II medal to the recently resurfaced Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader was awarded "for his great personal contribution to the commemoration of dead and buried Soviet citizens on the territory of [North Korea] and showing concern about the safety of the Soviet soldiers' graves and memorial sites," Russia's embassy in Pyongyang said Tuesday, per the Moscow Times. But neither Putin nor Kim, who reportedly made his first public appearance in 20 days after rumors that he'd fallen ill, were present for the ceremony at the Pyongyang legislature.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Matsegora handed the medal to Ri Son Gwon, the foreign minister of North Korea, where some 1,375 Soviet soldiers are buried, according to Russian state media. The embassy said the pair discussed "further developing and strengthening multifaceted Russian-Korean cooperation." Photos of the meeting showed faces hidden by masks, though North Korea has yet to report a case of COVID-19, per the AP. The ceremony comes days before Russia celebrates the 75th anniversary of Victory Day, when Soviet forces took control of Berlin, bringing World War II to an end in Europe. Kim attended celebrations in Russia last year. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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