Why Victory Day is so important for Russia | Sunday Observer

Why Victory Day is so important for Russia

8 May, 2022

It has become an annual event - the military parade in Red Square in Moscow and cities across Russia on 9 May, marking victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

Under Vladimir Putin, Victory Day has become a show of strength of troops and military hardware, as well as a chance to remember the sacrifices of World War Two. Twenty-seven million Soviet citizens died, by far the greatest loss of any country, in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War.

This year, the event has taken on a significance of its own. Far from liberating Europe, Russia has waged months of war against its neighbour Ukraine and is devoid of any real form of military victory that it can celebrate.

Regiments that played a key role in the war will parade in front of the top brass and the president, whose address will echo across Red Square and be scrutinised for what to expect next. Russia’s leader often uses this moment to send messages of intent.

The Victory Day parade was occasionally marked in the Soviet era and revived by President Boris Yeltsin for the 50th anniversary in 1995, but it was Vladimir Putin in 2008 who made it an annual event featuring military hardware. Russian identity has been largely created with Victory Day in the background, with schoolbooks and history books focusing on Russia as Europe’s wartime liberators.

“Even in a normal year it’s a huge show of Russia strength, of Putin’s control and everything he stands for,” says Ammon Cheskin of Glasgow University. “And that’s just amplified this year.” -Agencies