Russia’s Victory Day parade can be summed up by pain, pride and propaganda


It’s hard to overstate the importance of Victory Day in Russia, which marks the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

The patriotic fervour has been building for the past fortnight.

Moscow has been coloured red with giant flags on almost every corner.

Buses, rubbish lorries and even tractors bear some reference to 9 May.

The day will see a huge military parade on Red Square, involving troops, tanks and missile launchers.

This year, the 79th anniversary, is not exactly a major milestone – so why is it so big?

I think it can be summed up by three Ps: pain, pride and propaganda.

Pain refers to the deaths of around 27 million Soviet citizens during the defeat of Nazi Germany.

It was a collective grief of monstrous proportions – practically every family was affected – and it’s still felt today.

But there is great pride felt at the role played by the Soviet Union. It was a time when (together with the Allies) they essentially ruled the world.

Now, though, many Russians feel that status is not properly acknowledged by the West. This serves as a reminder.

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Kremlin using one war to inform opinion on another

The atmosphere this year, however, feels turbo-charged, and that’s down to the final reason – propaganda.

The Kremlin is using one war to inform opinion on another – the current conflict with Ukraine.

Units from the so-called special military operation will take part in the parade, and that’s not all.

In Moscow’s Victory Park, there’s an exhibition called Trophies.

Western tanks and armoured vehicles Russia captured on the battlefield in Ukraine are proudly on display. Guides offer tours in English and Chinese.

Western tanks and armoured vehicles captured in Ukraine on display

‘History repeats itself’

The idea is to conflate the two conflicts – the Second World War and the special military operation – so Russians view them in the same way. That heroism and sacrifice will win the day. That Russia, crucially, is on the right side of history.

It certainly seems to be working.

“I think this is being shown not so much to us but to [the West], as it is written there, ‘history repeats itself’,” Sergey tells us, referring to the show’s slogan.

“They must come to terms with our strength and our right to be independent, rather than everyone else dancing to their tune.”

How different the tune was 79 years ago. Allies now seen as enemies.

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