Wednesday, May 8, 2019

‘Does Russia Really Need a Victory Parade Every Year?’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 7 – Sometimes to ask a question is to answer it even if the answer is different than one intends. That appears to be the case with a Russian nationalist who asks, “Does Russia really need a Victory Parade every year?” His answer is an unabashed affirmative, but others clearly don’t agree (

            Not only do more than half of all Russians – 52 percent – say they have no plans to take part in the May 9 events (; but ever more of them are asking how much will all this cost, a sure sign of parade fatigue (

            Moreover, ever more Russians are upset by the militarization of the holiday as it involves children (; and some are even now willing to say that they’ve had enough not only with Victory Day but with World War II as a center of attention (

             Like his Soviet predecessors, Putin has used World War II as a universal moral solvent to call into question any criticism of Stalin and the Soviet regime. But in contrast to them, he has also made it the centerpiece of his campaign to make militarism and brute power the basis for the admiration of Russians to their leaders (

            One meme he and his regime have used this year in particular is the assertion that “We can do it again,” a suggestion that Russians can fight and win yet another war.  That may work with some Russians, but it doesn’t work with veterans or others who know what war really is. Their numbers are declining. However, they are very clear that they reject that slogan.

            94-year-old World War II veteran Petr Aryshev says that “only idiots say that ‘we can do it again.  They should be called pseudo-patriots.” They haven’t experienced the trenches or the front line and so don’t know what they are talking about ( In a few years, of course, there won’t be anyone left with these memories.

            But the younger generation isn’t falling into line as Putin would like. One much younger commentator offers the following bitter reflection about May 9: “Moscow is spending more than a half billion rubles (eight million US dollars) on May 9. But the few veterans who remain alive are being given only 10,000 rubles (160 US dollars).”

            “There is no money in our country for the elderly but there always is for a showy parade. May 9, the holiday of the Great Victory, has been transformed into an expensive and complete farce and a cheap showy spectacle with bad actors.  Our grandfathers didn’t fight for this” (

            He could have added that neither will we or our children.

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