Russia’s CIS partners won’t celebrate Great Fatherland War Victory anymore

Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, just one of many who made the decision to not come to Moscow for celebration of the Victory Day

Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, just one of many who made the decision to not come to Moscow for celebration of the Victory Day (Image: ng.ru) 

2015/04/27 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The Western media have kept close track of the growing list of world leaders who won’t be attending Victory Day festivities in Moscow this year, but another trend that may be more important – the decision of Russia’s Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) remaining partners no longer even to speak about what Russians call the Great Fatherland War – has attracted much less.

But as Svetlana Gamova of “Nezavisimaya gazetaputs it, that change means that “Russia is losing the last and, if you like, the most important thing which connects it with the CIS countries – Victory in the Great Fatherland War,” a conflict the non-Russians in the CIS now prefer to call World War II.

While all of them will mark the date, they will do so at home rather than in Moscow and under their own colors rather than the black and yellow of the St. George ribbon, a decoration that she suggests “has become the simple of the splitting apart of the Commonwealth of Independent States.”

The Kremlin has tried to play down this trend, she continues, excusing Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s decision to mark the anniversary in Mensk not Moscow, but “ordinary Russians as always have read between the lines: Lukashenka is openly distancing himself from Moscow,” something confirmed by his decision not to use the St. George ribbon.

Lukashenka is hardly alone, Gamova says. Leaders in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova have taken equally demonstrative steps to show that they will commemorate World War II in their own way and not jointly with the Russian one or employing the symbols that Moscow prefers.

“Many experts in the CIS countries suggest that this … is the result of the work of NGOs and Western embassies,” the Moscow journalist says, another example of the way in which many in that region seem incapable of accepting the idea that peoples and governments can ever act on their own.

Others, including Gamova herself, point to “the ineffective work or its complete absence by representatives of the Russian Federal Agency for CIS Affairs and Compatriots (Rossotrudnichestvo) and the International Foundation for Humanitarian Cooperation among the CIS Member States.

She says that officials in Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan say they know nothing about Rossotrudnichestvo or have heard “something about it” but can’t quite remember much. Moldovan parliamentarians, for example, say they have never met with its representatives, although they have heard about its work with Moldovan gastarbeiters in Russia.

The Russian government has allocated funds for this, she says, but things haven’t worked out. The money has gone for a few conferences and public celebrations but has not achieved the ends Moscow said it would. Neither Russians nor what she refers to as “’the titular nations’ of the CIS countries take it at all seriously.”

But one “fact” is obvious, the “Nezavisimaya gazeta” journalist concludes: “We have lost that space which for many years we considered traditionally a zone of Russian influence… and we will have to celebrate Victory Day in a dramatically shrinking circle of former fellow fighters.”

  • A Victory Day bus adorned with Stalin, Russia
    A Victory Day bus adorned with Stalin, Russia
  • The Victory Day in Russia
    The Victory Day in Russia
  • A Victory Day poster with Stalin in Moscow, Russia
    A Victory Day poster with Stalin in Moscow, Russia
  • A Victory Day billboard in Russia with a fake Chirchill quote praising Stalin
    A Victory Day billboard in Russia with a fake Chirchill quote praising Stalin
  • A Russian Victory Day postcard with Stalin
    A Russian Victory Day postcard with Stalin
  • The Victory Day in Russia (Image: AFP/Scanpix)
    The Victory Day in Russia (Image: AFP/Scanpix)
  • A Russian Victory Day postcard with Stalin
    A Russian Victory Day postcard with Stalin
  • The Victory Day in Russia
    The Victory Day in Russia
  • The Victory Day in Russia: "Hitler - an Idiot"
    The Victory Day in Russia: "Hitler - an Idiot"
  • The Victory Day in Russia
    The Victory Day in Russia
  • The Victory Day in Russia: "Russians Are Coming," "Leningrad-Berlin"
    The Victory Day in Russia: "Russians Are Coming," "Leningrad-Berlin"
  • Putin speaking in occupied Sevastopol on the anniversary of the WW2 Victory Day to celebrate the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine conducted by his military and special services two months earlier. May 9, 2014 (Image: kremlin.ru)
    Putin speaking in occupied Sevastopol on the anniversary of the WW2 Victory Day to celebrate the annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine conducted by his military and special services two months earlier. May 9, 2014 (Image: kremlin.ru)
  • Troops in armoured personnel carriers salute during the Victory Day parade. Photograph: Grigory Dukor/Reuters
    Troops in armoured personnel carriers salute during the Victory Day parade. Photograph: Grigory Dukor/Reuters

Edited by: A. N.

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  • The truth

    It seems that the russian propaganda dept is counter-productive !
    Or is it wrong directed ? Hum, huum , i have to think !

  • Dirk Smith

    Should be held in Kyiv since Ukrainians bore the brunt of WWII. Ukrainian lives lost almost equal Poland/Russia’s loss of life-COMBINED.

  • Dirk Smith

    MUSCOVITE COMMUNISM=MUSCOVITE FASCISM.

  • Ihor Molodecky

    It’s absurd to be required to make the pilgrimage to Moscow to celebrate the end of Second Word War! Each country should hold their own remembrances for their sacrifices at home. It’s also somewhat bizarre for the Russians to parade nuclear rockets in commemoration of their war dead.
    It is useful to remember that “The Great Patriotic War” started in 1941. The pact with Hitler, resulting in the invasion of Poland and Finland in 1939 and the 1940 invasion of the Baltic States are conveniently excluded. Also remember that….neither the War in the Pacific nor the Allies efforts on the western front and elsewhere are included. Their story is that it was only the Soviet Union’s victory….which now has morphed into a Russian one. Everyone else seems to have been edited out.

  • Brent

    Not only has Russia alienated Ukraine with its illegal invasion, it has alienated the Baltic countries and Poland with its aggression, and now its fellow Eurasian Union members.

    THEY JUST DON’T GET IT!!! Why doesn’t anyone like them anymore?!?!?

  • jim

    Hitler and Stalin in 1939 signed a pact to conquer and divide Europe between them . In Sept 1939 Hitler and Stalin attacked Poland , which initiated World War 2 . They went on to conquer other countries . In 1941 Hitler and Stalin had a falling out and Hitler attacked Russia , in Operation Barbarosa . Russia retaliated and in the end acquired the Countries that Hitler had invaded , enslaving them . I do not understand why they would be so thrilled to celebrate the Great Patriotic War , since in the end they simply exchanged one tyrant for another ,