Politics Regional

Military parade in Moscow: political pretext in the time of pandemic

On June 24, Russia is going to celebrate Victory Day – the prominent public holiday. 75 years ago Western allies alongside with USSR defeated Nazi Germany.

The celebration should have been held on May 9, but Russian government took decision to delay the military parade due to the current pandemic situation in Russia (which keeps its tendency to get worse).

It is highly significant that the celebration of Victory Day was rescheduled ahead of a key constitutional vote, which let Vladimir Putin legal opportunity to be elected for another 2 times.
Though the lockdown in Moscow eased this month, the parade is going to be held without mass gatherings which are still banned – but soldiers have no choice but to take part in the parade.

It is worth mentioning that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Russia rose above 600.000 on Wednesday and the idea of holding parade this year is barely related to the commemoration of the victims of World War II.

This year’s event is special for President Putin, because this week Russian citizens will vote on constitutional amendments, which are going to enlarge the power of president and allow Putin to stay in office beyond 2024.

To boost patriotic feelings and the support of the proposed amendments, the parade appeared to be good instrument. Since coming to office 20 years ago, Mr Putin has transformed quite ordinary holiday of Soviet times into a cornerstone of restoring Russia’s status as a great power.

For Putin the military parade is the way to show alleged Russian power not only to Russian citizens, but to the whole world – f.e heavy weaponry and newest military vehicles have been shown during the Victory day parade since 2008. The usage of Cold War-era Soviet symbols alongside with black-and-gold St George’s ribbon (which was military symbol of Russian monarchy before 1917) looks highly bizarre.

Nazi Germany ended all its military operations at 23:01 Central European Time on 8 May 1945. Russia, former USSR celebrate victory on May 9 because of differences in time zones.

The current military parade’s date of June 24 is the reminiscence of first parade, staged by USSR in 1945, straight after the surrender of Nazi Germany.

“Our duty is to remember that the Soviet people bore the brunt of fighting Nazism,” told Putin.
“It was namely our people who were able to defeat the horrible, total evil.”

Mr Putin claims that Russia could achieve the victory in World War II without western allies, even without other republics of former USSR. It highlights the political aim he has: to arrogate the victory in World War II, to persuade Russians they have great past and that they “can do it again”.
Six consecutive years of decreasing economy growth and anger over the Kremlin’s failed response to the pandemic have sent Putin’s approval ratings to record lows. Just 44 per cent of Russians support the constitutional changes, according to a poll published by the independent Levada Center earlier this month. The IMF predicts Russian gross domestic product will fall by 5.5 per cent this year. At the same time Russian government and Putin in particular have shown no intention to support Russian citizens in the time of quarantine regime – the amounts of social payments remain at extremely low level, and that provokes further disappointment of Russian citizens as they see no opportunity of state development in the Putin’s era. Military parades, using of contraversial symbols and boosting of military propaganda are not what Russians expect in the time the whole world has no clue how to deal with COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic is the biggest obstacle Mr Putin has yet faced in bringing the nation together and has highlighted many of the inefficiencies of his rule. He has spent nearly all of the past three months in isolation in his residence outside Moscow, while thousands of Russians stayed without appropriate medical care and died. It clearly shows that aggressive rhetoric of Putin is perfectly combined with his unwillingness to take risks in regards of his personal health and security.

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