‘Hug my Grandpa’: Hundreds greet 90yo who missed V-Day parade in Kaliningrad, Russia

© Михаил Лузгин / vk.com
Hundreds of people in Russian exclave of Kaliningrad have come to a 90-year-old WWII veteran to hug him and wish him well on Victory Day. The old sailor was upset that he was unable to join the parade due to poor health.

The surprise event for Vladimir Podolsky, a former submarine officer, was organized by his granddaughter Anastazja Zueva on VKontakte(In Contact), the largest online social networking service in Russia and Europe.

“Guys, I have a grandfather, Vladimir Podolsky, he is very old, and we decided not to take part in the May 9 parade. He won’t make it. After all, he is 90 years-old,” she wrote less than two weeks ahead of the celebrations.

© Михаил Лузгин / vk.com

Podolsky was a teenager when WWII broke out. He didn’t take part in military action, but he served in the Soviet Black Sea Fleet from 1944, according to Russian media. He was awarded numerous times, including with the Order of the Red Star and the Order of the Red Banner, one the highest military decorations in Soviet Union.

Zueva called people to come near the place apparently where the old man lives and acknowledge him.

“We live in the center [downtown]... [We] will go out for a walk during the day, if you can, just come, congratulate him, talk to him and hug him. It would be great! He was so upset that he does not go anywhere. Please support us. We are in Kaliningrad!”

Zueva probably expected like a dozen of people who might come to greet her grandfather. However, she couldn’t imagine that her event would draw hundreds of Kaliningrad residents.

Children surrounded the veteran and gave him carnations, flowers usually presented to WWII veterans or those who survived the war on Victory Day. Everyone was trying to deliver warm words to Podolsky, hug him, and say how important the victory over Nazi Germany was. Some even started singing the wartime song ‘Katyusha’.

According to the Russian media, at least 500 people have joined the event. Some of the city residents arrived with banners and photos of their relatives who took part in WWII after the Immortal Regiment march.

The grandpa looked confused at first – he couldn’t imagine such a surprise – but then he said he was very pleased. He even broke into tears after he arrived home, his granddaughter later wrote on VKontakte, thanking everyone who joined the event.

“Granddad is happy, he broke into tears and told his wife how he was greeted,” she said, adding that her generation is lucky as we “don’t know what war is.”

People across Russia took to Zueva’s VKontakte page to say warm words to the old man who survived WWII.

“I am looking at the photo [of Podolsky] and can’t hold back tears,” one VKontakte user wrote, “It was probably the best present for your grandfather.”

“Thanks for the victory!” and “God bless the grandfather,” other users of the site wrote.