Russia will not Give up the ‘Exaggerated Victorious Hysteria’

This year Russia was planning to have a pompous 75 anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. We could forecast that all main attempts of the Kremlin propaganda will be designated to establish the existing “cult o…

This year Russia was planning to have a pompous 75 anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. We could forecast that all main attempts of the Kremlin propaganda will be designated to establish the existing “cult of victory’. However, the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic corrected plans of the Russian authorities. On the other hand, we van forecast that the Kremlin will not give up the holiday of the Victory. This date is too important to Moscow in an ideological point of view.
The Parade had to be Postponed
The Kremlin already had to postpone a pompous parade in the Red Square – a traditional attribute of the Holiday of Victory Day. Actually, they did not avoid manipulations in making this decision. In the middle of April they announced that three organizations that are joined together by the Great Patriotic War addressed Vladimir Putin and asked to postpone the parade to the later date because of the risk of coronavirus. Naturally, on the next day the President of Russia took the ‘request of veterans’ into consideration. Here we can easily presume that the ‘address of veterans’ has been framed not without the knowledge of the authorities, having in mind that just few real war veterans have survived and all of them are of the respectable age.
We should give a thought why the Kremlin needed such a manoeuvre – ‘the address of veterans’ to postpone the parade? I find it curious that in the current situation even the direct decision of the authorities would not raise additional questions. On the other hand, it seems that the Kremlin simply forgot what it means to assume direct responsibility for its – even necessary – acts and decisions. Even in the mentioned situation the authorities needed an ‘umbrella’ that the corresponding address served for, i.e. so-called initiative from the bottom.
Another explanation is potentially related to the fact that the Kremlin got scared that it might be accused of ‘stealing away the holiday from veterans’. Finally, the narrative of the Victory and the ‘Cult of Victory’ in Russia is actually very firm. At some time the sociologist Lev Gudkov has written that the victory in the Great Patriotic War is the main historical event in the massive public opinion of Russia. In this way the Kremlin may not risk and relinquish its hold of this narrative or make the conditions that allow ‘playing’ with this narrative to others. Now it seems that not the authorities were the initiators of cancelation of this parade, but the veterans themselves. Besides, V. Putin in this way had one more chance to prove that he can ‘hear ordinary people’.
Up to now there is no official decision when the parade will take place, by which Russia not just commemorates history but also seeks to demonstrate its available military capabilities to the world. In public arena two potential dates are being mentioned. It has been mentioned that the parade could be potentially held on the last day of the World War II, however, not on 2 September when the whole world mentions this date, but on 3 September, which was moved forward by Russia this year. Another probable version is at the beginning of November to commemorate the parade of the Red Army that was held in Moscow in 1941.
When did World War II end?
We should pay some attention to already mentioned moving forward the end of World War II as a memorable day from 2 September to 3 September. V. Putin signed a corresponding law at the beginning of April. There was no firm argumentation why such a decision was made despite the fact that 3 September as the end of World War II has been commemorated in Russia for some time and the end of war is being commemorated on this day in China, thus Russia stands hand in hand with both its Soviet past and its ’strategic partner’. On the other hand, here we can see some kind of a tradition. Let’s remember that Russia celebrates the Victory in the Great Patriotic War on 9 May, meanwhile the whole world commemorates capitulation of Germany in 1945 on 8 May.
We have another hot nuance here. On 3 September Russia also commemorates the memorial day of the victims of terrorist act in Beslan. Here we can mention that the mentioned attack became one of the most painful in the new history of Russia. On 1 September 2003 Chechen fighters lay siege of the school in Beslan town and took teachers, schoolchildren and their parents as hostages. On 3 September they attacked the school and a lot of hostages were killed. The terrorist act in Beslan demonstrated powerlessness of the Russian special services.
We have more questions in regards to Beslan. For instance, V. Putin in the context of these events is being accused of refusal to negotiate with terrorists and thus failed to use all potential chances to save lives of hostages. Aslan Maskhadov, President of Ichkeria, that was elected but not recognized by Moscow, offered his assistance in negotiations. He was ready to go to Belsan if security guarantees were ensured for him.
Besides, there is another version that most hostages were killed namely by Russian special services that attacked the school and acts of the Army that provoked explosions in the school gym where hostages were kept. For instance, such a version was supported by Yuri Savelyev, a member of the Parliamentary Committee of Russia that was investigating this terrorism attack. In 2006 he gave his separate opinion that did not coincide with official conclusions of the investigation.
The current moving forward of the memorial day of World War II to 3 September may be dedicated to concealment of memories about Beslan by the rhetoric of victory. ‘Beslan mothers’, an organization that unites victims of the mentioned terrorist attack and their families, has already expressed its concerns about this.
Does not Step aside from Ideological Fights
The fact that the Kremlin was worried about moving forward of the memorial day during the coronavirus pandemic – at the time when there are a lot of more relevant issues – demonstrates how important ideological fights based on history are to the authorities of Russia. We can anticipate that Moscow feels some kind of grievance that so far it has failed to earn all possible ideological and propaganda dividends from 75 jubilee. On the other hand, present actions demonstrate that the Kremlin does not give up its idea to organize a pompous commemoration of the Victory by continuing the discourse of 75 commemoration throughout all 2020.
By the way, Moscow tries to use the mentioned discourse of the victory for improvement of its political matters. At the end of April the Kremlin at the same time when the White House, announced a joint declaration to remember the anniversary when the Red Army and troops of the USA met at the river Elbe in 1945. The declaration mentions that the mentioned historical event demonstrates what both countries can achieve if they forget about confrontations and seek a common goal. Undoubtedly, the mentioned declaration is important to Moscow when we talk about the current situation (the Kremlin has already tried to manipulate on the topic of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic seeking lifting of sanctions applied against Russia). Meanwhile the magazine The Wall Street Journal published that rather hot discussions were going on at the Executive Office of the U.S. President and there were doubts about expediency of such a joint declaration.
In the context of all the mentioned information we just have to think what effect this might have on Lithuania and other Baltic States. Firstly, it means that by approaching the moved parade and other days of commemoration the Kremlin’s aggressive propaganda rhetoric based on historical vision propagated by Moscow will increase. This actually means that such propaganda narratives will be actively addressed against Lithuania (also against Latvia, Estonia and Poland). We can mention here that Lithuania emphasizes different historical aspects and recalls the fact of Soviet occupation, post-war movement of resistance, etc
There are a lot of signs that Russia is getting back to the Soviet version of the events of World War II (and sometimes even to narratives of 1939). For instance, last year Moscow put a lot of effort to justify Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. An attempt to blame Poland for the start of World War II was one of most interesting aspects. Thus, it is not hard to foresee that the Baltic States can also face more active propaganda attacks of Russia based on historical narratives in autumn – at the time when the Kremlin will emerge into something that even the opposition of Russia in informal environment calls ‘exaggerated victorious hysteria’.
Viktor Denisenko

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Autorius: Voras Online