Staunton, May 9 – Russian government media focused almost exclusively on the Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square and Vladimir Putin’s speech. But many other things were going on this Victory Day that may say as much about Russia and where it is headed than the official proceedings. Below are ten such stories which didn’t get much attention.
Putin Talks War but Russians Call for Peace. An activist in Yaroslavl staged an individual picket to proclaim that “war is not an occasion for pride” and that what the world needs is peace (7x7-journal.ru/news/2021/05/09/yaroslavskij-aktivist-v-den-pobedy-provel-piket-protiv-populyarizacii-vojny). Other activists in Volgograd which was renamed Stalingrad for the day called for an end to Russian aggression against Ukraine (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/363738/
2. Russia Gave Its Veterans Less than Any Post-Soviet State and Refused to Give One Veteran Behind on Taxes Anything. A survey of what post-Soviet countries are giving veterans this Victory Day found that Russia, far from the poorest, is giving the least; and there is a report that officials haven’t given at least one of them anything if the veteran is behind on taxes (newizv.ru/news/society/09-05-2021/vyplaty-veteranam-ko-dnyu-pobedy-v-stranah-byvshego-sssr-v-rossii-dali-menshe-vseh and club-rf.ru/16/news/59173).
3. Military Vehicle in Kemerovo Parade Burns and Fire Extinguisher Doesn’t Work. A military car taking part in the Victory Day parade in Kemerovo partially burned, but the drivers were unable to contain the fire as the fire extinguisher didn’t work (znak.com/2021-05-09/v_kemerovo_na_parade_zagorelas_voennaya_tehnika_potushili_tryapochkoy).
4. Vladivostok Journalist Ignores Veteran when Governor Shows Up. For all the talk that on Victory Day, veterans are the most people, a journalist in Vladivostok shows that isn’t true. When the regional governor showed up, she interrupted her interview with a veteran and turned her attention to Governor Olge Kozhemyako (znak.com/2021-05-09/vo_vladivostoke_zhurnalistka_prervala_rech_veterana_na_parade_uvidev_gubernatora).
5. Vladivostok Officials Decorate Parade Route with Banners that Look Like Japanese Battle Flag. Russians in the far eastern port of Vladivostok were angered by banners that looked suspiciously like Japanese battle flags given that the USSR at least at the very end of the war was fighting Tokyo (sibreal.org/a/31242692.html).
6. This Victory Day Highlights Moscow’s Isolation in Former Soviet Space. In past Victory Days, leaders from many post-Soviet states came to Moscow to appear with Russian leaders. This time, only Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon joined Putin (ehorussia.com/new/node/23418). Putin responded by greeting all the CIS governments and the peoples of Georgia and Ukraine but not their governments (ritmeurasia.org/news--2021-05-09--putin-pozdravil-s-dnem-pobedy-strany-sng-i-narody-gruzii-i-ukrainy-54549).
7. Hackers Attack Immoral Regiment Portal. The Immortal Regiment website suffered three denial of service attacks and six web attacks during Victory Day (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/polk-dudos/).
8. Many Upset that Putin Again Covers Over the Lenin Mausoleum During Parade. Given the centrality of the Soviet Union in the war effort that Putin talks about constantly, many had expected him not to put up screens to hide Lenin’s mausoleum this year as he has done in years past. But despite these hopes, once again, the Kremlin hid the mausoleum from public view (realtribune.ru/patriotizm-pod-faneroj-pochemu-putin-skryvaet-mavzolej-lenina).
Victory Belongs to Veterans Not Putin. Numerous Russian bloggers say that Victory Day belongs to the veterans and must not be “privatized” into anyone’s hands and that above all “it is not a victory of Putin’s (realtribune.ru/den-pobedy-prinadlezhit-veteranam-ego-nelzya-privatizirovatsvoboda.org/a/31246510.html