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Controversial political readings of May 9

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, May 11
On May 9 the world celebrated the 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism. However despite the fact so many years have passed there is still no consensus about who played what role in the Second World War and what its consequences were for the various peoples of the world.

The date of course has serious political significance, particularly for the leadership of the Russian Federation, which celebrated 9 May in Moscow in an extremely pompous way. The military parade in Red Square was simultaneously an expression of Russia's friendly relations with former members of the anti-fascist coalition and a demonstration of the power and determination of Russian Federation leaders to reclaim the old empire. All the leaders of CIS countries were invited to the parade, as were the puppet leaders of the Sokhumi and Tskhinvali regimes. The parade was an attempt to promote Putinís idea that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical catastrophe and show the world that Russia wants to restore it in a different form.

On May 9 Russia was also celebrating certain recent geopolitical successes in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and war in Georgia. What is interesting is that The Kremlin restoring its influence over post-Soviet countries in different ways does not concern European countries. Maybe it does in reality, but none of them say so. It also looks like the Obama administration is not very willing to challenge Russia over its ambitions, at least publicly.

Russia's frozen conflict with Georgia coloured the celebrations in Moscow. Kremlin officials declared that they did not want to see Saakashvili at the victory celebration and President Medvedev congratulated the people of Georgia on the day, bypassing the President, mentioned the demolition of the war memorial in Kutaisi in December 2009 and praised the friendship of the Georgian and Russian people and their joint contribution to the victory over fascism. Russian officials welcomed Georgian opposition leaders Zurab Noghaideli and Nino Burjanadze to the event, the latter with the same respect as if she were still Chair of the Georgian Parliament. Meanwhile Tbilisi celebrated the day by congratulating the ever-shrinking ranks of war veterans and paying tribute to them in front of the memorials which are still standing.

Analysts commented on the Russian leaders' assessment of Stalin, who led the Soviet Union during the war. Putin was less critical and stressed the positive role Stalin had played in the USSR but Medvedev criticised Stalinís style of governance, stating that the war was won by the people, not Stalin. However this criticism does not necessarily mean that modern Russia is transforming into a democracy which rejects Stalin's heritage. On the contrary, its increasingly authoritarian regime, facade democracy, and populist aggression confirm that Stalinism is alive and well in Russia.

Georgia sacrificed more than 300,000 of its people during the Second World War and now, 65 years later, there is no peace in Georgia and 1/5 of the country is occupied by the Army of the country which is proud of its victory over fascism in World War Two. So was fascism really defeated or simply Russified?