“We defeated the Nazis, we will defeat the Russians”: In Ukraine, the victory of 1945 is no longer the same

Devastated by the Russian invasion, Ukraine is this year discreetly marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, but it is her victory over Moscow that she hopes for as she draws a parallel between the brutality of the Nazis and Russian troops on her ground pulls .

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Unlike Russia, the former Soviet republic, which estimates its civilian and military casualties during World War II (1939-1945) at more than eight million people, has for years focused on commemorating the victims, not celebrating them.

But this year, Ukrainians are dreaming of another victory, over Moscow, which has set their country on fire and blood since invading it on February 24.

“After decades of peace, Russia has brought back the horror of massacres of civilians to Europe,” adviser to Ukraine’s Presidential Administration Mykhailo Podoliak told AFP in a written comment. But “Ukraine and Europe will have a new date for a real victory over Russian expansionism, chauvinism and Nazism.”

“It’s not for tomorrow and we will pay very dearly for it,” he added, as the Russian army left the north of the country in the face of Ukrainian resistance, but fierce fighting continued in the east and south.

The Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance has come up with a new slogan for this year. “We defeated the Nazis, we will defeat the Russians,” reads the banner, which also features portraits of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler (1933-1945) and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

If the program of commemorations has not yet been unveiled, “there will be no gathering” in Kyiv, obliging martial law and Russian strikes, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko warned on Friday.



The highly symbolic celebration of May 9th in Russia is each year the occasion of a huge military parade in Moscow’s Red Square, a very patriotic gathering that is increasingly being used by power to weld the nation by celebrating the “achievement of the Russian people”. glorified. .

Russia was “cynically exploiting the memory and conditions of World War II,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry accused Sunday, and Moscow said its invasion of Ukraine was aimed at “denazifying” the country.

Kyiv had begun to move away from Soviet-style celebrations some 15 years ago, when the term “Great Patriotic War,” still used in Moscow, gave way to “World War II” in official speeches and history books.

This trend was reinforced by Kyiv-led “de-Sovietization” following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea (south) peninsula in 2014, followed by a war in the east against Kremlin-backed separatists.

Since 2015, Ukrainians and some Anglo-Saxon countries have used the poppy as the official emblem for commemorations.

The orange and black ribbon of St. George used by Russians and separatists, considered a “symbol of Russian aggression” in Ukraine, has been banned since 2017 and carries a fine of up to 160 euros or even 15 days in prison.



Finally, since 2015, commemorations have been held not only on May 9, as in the former USSR and Russia, but also on May 8, the “Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation”, following the European tradition.

Although May 9 was still symbolically important for 80% of Ukrainians until recently, the Russian invasion caused that figure to drop to 34%, according to a poll by Ukraine’s Rating institute released in late April, which highlighted a “key shift” in the historical Memory”.

More than a third of Ukrainians now see it as a “relic of the past” and almost a quarter as an ordinary day, according to the same source. Some politicians are even calling for no celebrations on May 9th.

For Volodymyr Kostiouk, 62, son of a former Soviet prisoner of war who was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp, that day always had a personal dimension that is gone today.

Russians and Ukrainians “fought together against the Nazis, it was our common victory. Today, the Russians are killing and torturing us, and that common history no longer exists,” said the bank employee.

“What party is this? Did we only win then so that they destroy us now? protests this man, who left Kyiv to flee the Russian bombs for the west of the country.

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