The political burden of May 9
By Messenger Staff
Thursday, May 9May 9 marks the day that fascism was defeated during World War II. This date represents great political and ideological importance for the Soviet Union, and the significance of this date since the collapse of the USSR has only increased through the years.
Russia’s leadership celebrates this date every year. For present-day Russia, this date spurs the remembrance of the USSR’s importance and power at the time. However, this date is looked by some with regret, as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has labeled the collapse of the Soviet Union as one of the biggest geopolitical catastrophes in the XX century.
For Moscow, May 9 recalls the time when all the countries were united around Russia, as the most powerful country in the world.
The Russian President’s dream is to revive the Soviet Union under a different name. As such, May 9 represent an opportunity to revive the unity of the former Soviet states which have long since become independent entities.
In Georgia however, this date takes on entirely different meaning.
Right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgian politicians refused to specially celebrate May 9, saying that this was not Georgia’s war. According to such a position, Georgia had been occupied by Russia and Georgians fought together with the occupiers. This was unacceptable for those veterans who had survived in the Second World War. Georgia sacrificed a lot of people.
Later, during Eduard Shevardnadze’s presidency, celebrations were also held in Tbilisi on May 9. However, after the Rose Revolution, the new administration again became indifferent towards this date. The Rose administration symbolically destroyed the Second World War memorial in Kutaisi and built a new parliamentary building on the site. Saakashvili tried to celebrate May 8 as a day of victory, widely celebrated in many European countries.
After the victory of the Georgian Dream in the Parliamentary Elections, the situation changed again. Certain pro-Russian forces in Georgia want to celebrate May 9; some even plan to travel to Moscow to celebrate this date there.
There are only a couple of thousand survivors from the Second World War in Georgia, as almost 70 years have passed since the Second World War. There are not many people left to celebrate.