The war in Ukraine has prompted officials across Russia to cut annual celebrations. Victory Daythe country’s most important national holiday: more than 20 cities have canceled military parades and organizers have canceled a popular nationwide march to honor veterans.
Security concerns were the most commonly cited reason for the hasty cancellation of Tuesday’s events, but some analysts suggested the concern was just as much due to fears of domestic unrest.
It’s an unprecedented move in a country where parades celebrating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II have become President Vladimir Putin’s calling card.
Over the years, he has referred to the day not only as a celebration of a historic victory, but also as Russia’s current need to thwart Western forces that he says are still trying to destroy it. More recently, he has attempted to include Ukraine in this narrative, falsely portraying it as a Nazi redoubt.
The country’s largest parade, which will take place outside the Kremlin on Red Square, is expected to continue to be a routine display of raw military might, with row after row of carefully orchestrated soldiers marching amidst weapons ranging from vintage tanks to ICBMs. Mister. Putin’s address to the nation is also planned.
But outside of Moscow recent spate of drone attacks against military or infrastructure targets in cities such as Sevastopol in Crimea, the home port of the Black Sea Fleet, as well as other attacks in regions bordering Ukraine, gave officials pause. Even the Kremlin with two drones is not insured destroyed over mr. Putin’s cabinet last week
Governors of various regions cited “security concerns” in announcing the cancellation. They usually didn’t go into details, but in the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, the governor suggested that slow-moving military vehicles and marching soldiers could be tempting targets.
“There will be no parade so as not to provoke the enemy with a large number of equipment and soldiers accumulated in the center of Belgorod,” Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. “The refusal to hold the parade is related to the safety of the inhabitants of the region.”
Many districts banned drone flights during the events, and the Redovka news portal on Telegram reported that anti-drone weapons were issued to National Guard units.
Igor Artamonov, governor of the Lipetsk region, which is also next to Ukraine, said his decision should not be misinterpreted.
“We are not afraid, we do not raise our hands,” he wrote on Telegram. “No neo-Nazi scum can overshadow the great Victory Day. But we also have no right to put people at risk. Everyone understands that the parades take place on strictly defined squares at strictly defined times.”
The cancellation of the all-Russian march “Immortal Regiment”, when ordinary Russians take to the streets to show photos of their veteran ancestors, is perhaps the most striking change. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the march was canceled as a “precautionary measure” against possible terrorist attacks.
Some governors said they did not want to gather large numbers of people in the midst of a war. But some analysts have suggested the Kremlin may be nervous that bringing large crowds of Russians onto the streets during such a turbulent time could lead to civil unrest, even with draconian laws banning protests during a war.
It could be especially volatile if thousands of people show up with pictures of recent war dead, revealing the extent of the casualties the government has been trying to cover up, analysts say. Some portraits of soldiers who died in Ukraine were carried during last year’s festivities, but there were far fewer of them then, just two months after hostilities began.
“People will not come out with portraits of their great-grandfathers,” says political activist Elvira Vikhareva. wrote on Facebook. “People will come out with portraits of their fathers, sons and brothers. The regiment will not be “immortal”, but very mortal, and the scale will be visible.
Whatever the reason, Russian officials are trying to promote an alternative by encouraging people to upload portraits to a dedicated website or to stick portraits of their veteran ancestors on their cars and apartment windows.
Some local leaders away from Ukraine have said they are canceling their parades in solidarity with the frontline regions. In the Pskov region, where the famous paratrooper division is stationed, which has suffered from hostilities and is implicated in possible war crimes, Governor M. Mikhail Vedernikov said that the sound of fireworks would disturb recovering soldiers and that the money would be better spent on their needs.
Other regions planned to continue the festivities, but on a smaller scale. In St. For example, there will be no Air Force overpass in St. Petersburg.
Some pro-war bloggers argue that the men and equipment traditionally featured in many parades would be more useful at the front, bolstering the turbulent war effort.
Governor Vedernikov suggested a turnaround, saying, “We must not celebrate the victory, but do everything we can to bring it closer.”
Milana Mazaeva And Alina Lobzina made a report.