Wednesday, June 14, 2023

‘Bombing Voronezh’ No Longer a Laughing Matter, Russians Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 12 – Fifteen years ago, Russians began to joke, often bitterly, that whenever foreign countries did anything to Moscow that the Kremlin didn’t like, the Putin regime would take it out on Russians by “bombing Voronezh.” That is no longer a laughing matter, however, the editors of the Verstka news service say.

            The number of people dying in Ukraine has reached the point that the monthly toll is equal to the population of a mid-sized Russian city, one perhaps smaller than Voronezh but a loss that is in a certain sense irreplaceable. And as a result, the meme has resurfaced but now is the source of popular anger.

            The news that Voronezh was subjected to a drone attack on June 9 and reports about Russian losses in the war in Ukraine have led some Russians to revive the meme about “bombing” that city (

            The phrase first appeared almost 15 years ago when “immediately after the end of the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008,” the Russian government promised that “the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinval, would be restored with funds from the Russian budget,” a commitment that meant that North Caucasus city would be given twice as much as Voronezh.

            According to stories circulating on social media, a deputy in the Voronezh city council proposed attacking Moscow as a way of getting more from the center; but with the appearance of the meme, it was redefined to mean that whenever foreigners did something bad to Russia and its friends, Moscow would make sure that in the first instance Russians suffer.

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