Victory Day Between the Lines

Nadin Brzezinski
5 min readMay 12, 2022

Igor Shushko posted a nice interview of a young woman who carried photos during the March of the Eternal Regiment. These are supposed to be photos of service members who served in World War Two. This year it included dead servicemen from Ukraine.

So here is his translation of the relevant section.

So he’s not your relative?
No, he’s not.
What was his achievement?
… This is just a sign…
What do you mean “just a sign”? It must mean something?
They came to our classroom and handed them out for us to march in the parade.

This is a sacred day in modern-day Russia. Because World War Two is a religion, including the Cathedral of the Armed Forces. This includes the blessing of weapons and soldiers. After the end of the USSR, there was a rapprochement between the state and the church, and now the church serves the state and the other way around.

Continuity with Russia’s illiberal past returned with Vladimir Putin. Balzer (2003) labelled the early Putin years as a time of ‘managed pluralism’ in which diversity was allowed in political parties, the media, labour unions, civil society, business associations and other domains as long as activity remained within regime-imposed boundaries and quotas. Following a decade of disorder, the public was more than willing to go along. Unsurprisingly, this ‘managed pluralism’ quickly shifted toward the increased state control we see in many domains today, such as broadcast media (Lukyanova, 2015; Tolz, 2017) and foreign non-for-profit organisations (Human Rights Watch 2018a). By 2004, McFaul declared that Putin had ‘undermined every independent source of political power’ (2004).

As regards religion, even in the early years of his tenure Putin saw the value in religious imaging and acted accordingly. As early as 2000, when ‘spiritual renewal’ was highlighted in the National Security Concept as well as other government policies, critics argue that Putin intended to cloak his regime in a type of Orthodox nationalism (Blitt, 2011, p. 457). And though this proved accurate, Putin’s first two terms proceeded without a significant deterioration in religious rights or the diversity of civil society groups.

None of this is accidental. We see a society pining for the past, and not just the Soviet state, but all the way to the…

Nadin Brzezinski

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game. You can find me at CounterSocial, Mastodon and rarely FB