05/10/2018, 10.23
RUSSIA
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Victory Day, military and religious rhetoric

by Vladimir Rozanskij

May 9 (the conquest of Berlin by the Russians) is the most beloved national holiday in Russia, the most solemn day in the history of the nation. This year the festival coincided with the new inauguration of the reign of "Tsar Putin IV" and the confirmation of Dimitri Medvedev. Young people involved in demonstrations beaten by "volunteers" dressed as Cossacks. According to Patriarch Kirill, military power exalts the Christian nature of Russia.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Victory over Nazi-fascism was celebrated yesterday (photo 1). In the rest of the world it is attributed to the previous day, May 8, when the allies on both sides (American and Soviet) entered Berlin; but it was precisely on May 9 that Marshal Žukov proclaimed the Russian conquest of the German capital, whose partition was the very symbol of the subsequent cold war.

As confirmed by recent polls, May 9 is the most beloved national holiday in Russia: over 70% consider this day as the most solemn day in the history of the nation.

Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the favorite national holiday was on November 7th, a commemoration of the October Revolution, which received the maximum support from the authorities. Suppressed after the end of communism, in the national memory the revolution was replaced by the institution of the November 4 national day of reconciliation, which commemorates the expulsion of the Polish invaders and the end of the "Torbidi" in 1612, which allowed the ascent to the throne of the Romanov dynasty. In fact, very few Russians really remember the reasons for this solemnity, and all the rhetoric is concentrated on May 9, as an outpouring of Soviet pride along with the national one.

In reality, Russian history is marked by terrible defeats, which have thrown the country into long periods of foreign domination or social and economic depression: the internal struggles of the ancient princes, the medieval "tartar yoke", the numerous humiliations suffered by the Turks or the Poles , the long night of Soviet totalitarianism.

At the same time, Russian self-consciousness is nourished by sensational victories, almost always obtained through immense sacrifice and sustained by a strong apocalyptic perception of its universal mission of salvation. This was the case with the first victory over the Tatars in 1380, inspired by St. Sergius of Radonezh with his warrior monks; with the capture of Kazan 'of 1552, when Ivan the Terrible made the walls of the Mongols fall with the prayers to the Mother of God; with the uprising of Minin and Požarskij in 1612, blessed by the patriarch Ermogen, left to die of hunger by the Polish armies of the fake Tsar Dmitry. The most striking was certainly the defeat of Napoleon in 1812, when the Muscovites themselves burned the capital before the eyes of the Corsican dictator, while Tsar Alexander I was waiting in prayer in the palace chapel in St. Petersburg.

The feeling of being destined to "save the world", and not just one's own country, has always inspired the Russians, called to be the "third and last Christian Rome", as the prophecy of Philotheus of Pskov said at the end of the fifteenth century. This happened in the Second World War, when Stalin had to transform the Marxist ideology into the most extreme Russian mysticism to resist the terrible Nazi invasion of the Barbarossa Operation. The Russians seem to know how to win only by destroying themselves, as in Napoleon's Moscow or in Hitler's Stalingrad, or in the thousand days of siege of Leningrad. The more this absolute dedication is exalted today, when - not surprisingly - the May holidays coincide with the new ‘enthronement’ of Tsar Putin IV, who confirmed the government of the faithful Medvedev to "revive Russia".

Victory, the Cossacks, St. George

Victory is the foundation of the current state ideology, in continuity with the recent and ancient history of its people. Paternalistic rhetoric and capillary propaganda anesthetize every other yearning of the masses and erase the sins of the powerful, as seen in the repression of youth demonstrations on May 5th. The youngsters and teenagers on the street were not beaten up by the policemen, but by "volunteers" dressed as Cossacks, now openly admitted next to the police, to symbolize a force that comes from the people themselves, and not from the top. The Cossacks, in fact, are the synthesis of this history of tragedies, rebellions and oppressions, and great victories on external and internal enemies: men outside the borders, who serve the tsar in the name of faith and of the destiny prepared by God.

The catchphrases that exalt  Russian "great sacrifice", the podvig of monastic origin (almost a Christian jihâd) have been joined  in recent years by the frivolous symbols of the "ribbons of St. George", distributed in their thousands to all the participants (photo 2) to give the Victory a more spiritual and at the same time more military sense, given that the holy Palestinian martyr is patron of Moscow and the army. The same patriarch of Moscow, Kirill (Gundjaev),  has exalted the heroism of fathers and soldiers. By depositing the a wreath at the tomb of  the Unknown Soldier (photo 3), the patriarch declared that "Victory has been conquered by our grandparents and great-grandparents, but the tradition of the victors is preserved in the memory of our people and in the life of our Armed Forces".

According to Kirill, military power exalts the Christian nature of Russia: "We see that today the Armed Forces are rightfully acquiring ever greater authority and respect among the people, because their ability to defend the Homeland boosts the pride of all for one's own country ... is a great responsibility, to be exercised with the force of arms and with the power of the spirit. It is the Church that forms the spirit, and for a strong people the Church must work forcefully ". Thus, the militant Church of Russia is ready for new grand conquests.

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