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Russian Undertones of May 9

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Monday, May 16, 2022
May 9 is not a straightforward, simple historical date. Russia has long used it as the basis and symbol of the ideology and actively uses in its domestic and foreign policy.

May 9 became a historic date in 1945, when this day in the Soviet Union marked the victory over German fascism. It is also said that Stalin did not pay much attention to this date - at least it did not turn into a holiday during his time. The cult of May 9 was created by another leader of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, and thus celebrated in 1965 - the 20th anniversary of the victory over fascism. From this time on May 9 was given a special ideological dimension.

It must be said that the Soviet propagandists did the right thing - the Soviet main celebration date of November 7 was already far away and most of the people present were no longer alive. On May 9, almost all Soviet citizens saw and contributed to the victory over German fascism. This date was their victory. Soviet propaganda linked this victory to the “superiority of the socialist establishment” and the existence of a “great, united country.”

The collapse of the Soviet Union also wiped out a united country and the talk of the benefits of socialism. November 7 and October Revolution were forgotten in Moscow, but not May 9. On the contrary, they made it their main date and gave it a new lease of life.

This date became an indicator of Russia's strength and a means of propaganda for the restoration of a “united state”. Russia has always tried to celebrate May 9 in all former Soviet republics, with Russian accents. Russia continues to fight against Nazism and declares as Nazis anyone who opposes the new Russian imperial policy.

Putin started the war against Ukraine with the slogan of “denationalization”, and for years before the war he persuaded his citizens that the “Nazis” in Ukraine had come to power and oppressed the Russians living there. It must be said that not a small part of the Russian population believes in this propaganda.

On May 9, Putin reiterated that Russia was fighting in Ukraine to “free its native land of Nazi filth.” According to Putin, he will win again “as in 1945.”

Events in Ukraine did not turn out as Putin had planned. Ukraine has withstood the Russian onslaught, and the West is providing unprecedented economic and military assistance to Ukraine. Putin did not expect Ukraine to be resilient, nor did he expect such action from the West. However, he is not going to end the war. Acknowledging defeat will herald the end of the Putin regime.

In anticipation of May 9 this year, many expected Putin to take radical steps - to declare war on Ukraine and launch a general mobilization, which would significantly increase the number of troops invading Ukraine. Putin did not do that, and the parade in Moscow turned out to be mediocre, some even noted that it was more like a funeral than a ceremonial procession.

However, Russian propaganda is still talking about victories, while in Ukraine it is trying to remove new occupied territories, such as the Kherson region, from Ukraine and join Russia. The war in Ukraine is taking on a protracted character. The created reality was symbolic of the "Land-Lease" act signed by President Biden on May 9, which in its time played a major role in the victory over German Nazism.

May 9, traditionally, was celebrated in Georgia as well, but somewhat blandly. Traditionally, part of the opposition has again demanded that the government celebrate the victory over Nazism on May 8, as is the case in the West, and not on May 9, leaving Georgia "in the camp of Russia."

The government again refused this request. “Russia on May 9, self-proclaimed Georgian mediocrities are manipulating May 8 - this is the day of victory of our veterans and we must celebrate their day of victory,” - was the response of Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili.

There are about 1,800 living veterans in Georgia today who took part in the fight against Nazism. According to the decision of the government, each of them will receive ?1000 as a gift. On May 9, a small group of Communist-Stalinists marched in Gori under Soviet red flags, blaming Ukraine and the West for the war in Ukraine, and demanding the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia.

On May 8, a rally was held on Rustaveli Avenue at the initiative of the Droa party, in which Ukrainians in Georgia also took part. According to Elene Khoshtaria, the day of the defeat of Nazism, which is May 8, “should be the day of the defeat of Russian racism.”

According to a public opinion poll published by the International Republican Institute (IRI), Ukrainian respondents named Georgia among the top countries that supported Ukraine the most.

Georgia ranks 4th with 17%. It is preceded by Poland (67%), the United Kingdom (56%) and the United States (54%). Such a view of Georgia's role is not the merit of the Georgian government. This is the merit of the people who are holding rallies in support of Ukraine and up to 3,000 other Georgian volunteers who are fighting in Ukraine.