Putin’s victory parade & Crimea land grab are a throwback to Stalinist times: Vitaly Portnikov


Crimea, Opinion, Russia

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

Vladimir Putin’s decision to stage a military parade in Moscow on June 24, which was supposed to be held on May 9, 2020, may seem strange to everyone, but only at first glance.

Why is Putin in such a hurry to stage this parade? After all, he has more important issues at hand, such as deciding on the date of the referendum on constitutional amendments, which should allow him to maintain sole power in Russia for an unlimited period of time. The referendum seems to be a much more important event than any kind of military parade. Moreover, the so-called “Immortal Regiment” event, which has become an integral part of Russia’s propaganda ritual associated with World War 2, has also been postponed and will not take place at the same time as the parade. What’s going on?

The fact is that Putin really needs this parade. When all is said and done, the parade is a stronger proof of his legitimacy than any referendum. The referendum will be held anyway, by mail, if necessary; the results will be rigged; Putin will be re-elected, the protesters will be forcibly dispersed; everything will be hunky-dory again. But the parade…

I believe that on June 24, 2020, it will very important for Putin to stand on the same square where another Kremlin ruler, Joseph Stalin, stood on June 24, 1945. Since it didn’t work out on May 9 because of COVID-19, then June 24 would be the best choice, because this is how Putin creates historical continuity, drawing a direct line from the Generalissimo to the Chekist, from the past ruler to the present ruler.

Furthermore, if Russia is to build a facsimile of the Soviet Union without communism, then why not take advantage of the Stalinist experience? After all, when WW2 began, Joseph Stalin immediately forgot about communism, but remembered Russia and even Ukraine, calling on all compatriots to defend not the party, but the homeland. He even referred to them as “brothers and sisters”. Putin has the same idea – unite the “brothers and sisters” and have them enjoy and take pride in the victory parade.

Indeed, I’m convinced that Putin has no other ideology for the Russian nation other than exaggerated “victory” hysteria over “Russia’s victory in the Great Patriotic War”; there’s no other way to unite him with the people. Even the pandemic failed to rally Russians round the Kremlin: Putin hid in one of his residences and didn’t show up much, while Moscow residents were allowed to leave their homes only at certain hours.

And what about Crimea? That, too, was Stalin’s idea (in 1944, Stalin deported about 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Siberia and Central Asia, calling the ethnic Muslims traitors to the USSR and bringing in ethnic Russians to replenish the workforce-Ed).

In addition, Putin, like Stalin, is a “land grabber”. During the grandiose military parade on June 24, 1945, Stalin had not only won the war, but had also expanded the territory of his empire, bringing half of Europe under Soviet influence and blatantly annexing territories of other countries to the Soviet Union. Stalin never sought the consent of the vanquished, nor did he seek the consent of the countries liberated from Nazism.

It’s more than probable that Putin wants to follow Stalin’s model. When everything has been taken into consideration, the victory parade and Crimea are two important pillars supporting his regime and his idea of ​​power.

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

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