Caucasian triangle

Caucasian triangle

Mikhail Katkov

The victory over Nazi Germany is celebrated not only in Russia, but in all former Soviet republics. Somewhere the state authorities contribute to this, but somewhere they interfere. However, people still bring flowers to memorials and arrange family feasts. After 77 years, they are celebrating even where red flags and St. George ribbons have been banned.
Central Asia
In 2022, Kazakhstan decided not to hold a military parade in honor of Victory Day. According to the official version, due to cost savings, the Ministry of Defense did not have an extra four billion tenge (more than 600 million rubles). But there will still be 50 commemorative eve-nts. Including “The Immo-rtal Regiment”, although in an online format.
During the war years, Kazakhstan sent to the front about 1.2 million people (every fourth inhabitant) and lost about 600 thousand. In Uzbekistan , almost two million went to war (about a third of the population), and 538,000 did not return home. About 290 thousand (every fifth) were mobilized in Tajikis-tan , a third of them died.
In Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, May 9 is called Victory Day, and in Uzbekistan, the Day of Memory and Honor. And this is no coincidence: under the first president of the republic, Islam Karimov, the authorities generally avoided mentioning the Great Patriotic War. But after his death, the situation changed – for example, they began to restore Soviet monuments.
“I think this is due to the personal attitude to the Soviet legacy of the two presidents,” says Bakhtiyor Ergashev, director of the Center for Research Initia-tives Ma’no. “Under Kari-mov, there was no such sco-pe for celebration. It’s been like this for five years. We don’t plan a parade or an Immortal Regiment, but the St. George ribbon will not be banned, except for it, there will be a ribbon in the colors of the flag of Uzbekistan.”
In Kyrgyzstan, which sent 363 thousand people to the front (about 23 percent of the population) and lost 100 thousand, Victory Day has always been one of the main ones. With the exception of the coronavirus years 2020-2021, it was regularly celebrated with mass festivities and the procession of the Immortal Regiment. This year, the international situation has made adjustments.
“For the residents of Kyrgyzstan, May 9 is a family holiday. Even when the procession of the Immortal Regiment was not allowed, people on their own initiative put up photos of their relatives in the windows. Another thing is that after the annexation of Crimea to Russia, some Kyrgyz oppose the St. George ribbon. But it was not banned , and supplemented in 2015 with a ribbon in the colors of the flag of the republic,” explains Igor Shestakov, director of the Kyrgyz Center for Expert Initiatives Oi Ordo.
Since 2020, even the authorities of Turkmenistan have been celebrating Victory Day with a military parade. The reason was the visit to the republic of the Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia Alexander Fomin. The Russian general handed over to Gurba-nguly Berdimuhamedov the battle banner of the 748th Infantry Regiment of the 206th Infantry Division of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, under which the president’s grandfather, Berdimuhamed Annayev, fought. In total, according to various sources, from 180 to 700 thousand fighters from Turkmenistan fought on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, at least 90 thousand died.
Caucasian triangle
Despite the fact that numerous conflicts in the South Caucasus periodically turn into armed clashes, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are united in their attitude towards the Great Patriotic War. For example, contrary to the demands of the opposition, the Georgian authorities even refused to postpone Victory Day from May 9 to 8, although in the context of the events of 2008 this decision might seem logical and even uncontested to some. Georgia sent about 700 thousand people to the war (a fifth of the population of the Georgian SSR), over 300 thousand died.
“Georgian society is divided. For the older generation, the holiday is May 9, for young people it is often the eighth day. In addition, many here have an extremely negative attitude towards the USSR. But everyone respects veterans very much,” says Georgian political scientist Nika Chitadze. “With them in Victory Park The leadership of Georgia annually meets near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A significant part of society does not consider that war to be Patriotic, it is only World War II for them. However, everyone has dead relatives. And the film “Soldier’s Father” is everyone’s favorite. It is shown on TV every time.”
Azerbaijan , like Georgia, sent a fifth of the population to the front – 681 thousand people, of which 300 thousand did not return. The president of the republic annually takes part in the celebration of Victory Day over fascism – he communicates with veterans, lays flowers at the memorial of the Common Grave in Baku. After the end of the second war for Karabakh in 2020, by analogy, another Victory Day was established in the country, which is celebrated on November 10.
For Armenia, for a long time, May 9 was a triple, and for many the most important holiday – Victory Day, Day of the Capture of Shushi and Day of the Defense Army of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic). However, after the defeat, 2020 became a day of mourning and mourning: Shushi was captured, the army of Artsakh was defeated.
Nevertheless, Victory Day remains an important element in the national identity of Armenians. Firstly, 320,000 residents of Armenia (a fifth of the population) went to the front, of which 175,000 did not return home. Secondly, the Armenians are convinced that if the Nazis had won near Stalingrad, Turkey would have entered the war against the USSR, and then the threat of a new genocide would have hung over them.
“Armenians are proud of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War and always tell everyone about them. For example, the Taman division, formed in Yerevan, stormed Berlin,” reminds Armenian political analyst Hayk Khalatyan. war.” We perceive this victory as our own.”
Western Front
The Western republics of the former Soviet Union are more sensitive to the common history. Some consider the war and its consequences “enslavement of the motherland”, while others, on the contrary, sing the heroism of their ancestors.
Belarus lost 2.4 million people, dozens of cities were destroyed, thousands of villages burned down. For Belarusians, Victory Day is one of the main holidays of the year. In all regions, flowers are brought to military monuments and memorials, rallies and festive concerts are held, and the evening sky is painted with fireworks. The theme of partisans has become truly iconic.
“Both the authorities and their opponents are trying to use the memory of the war to their advantage. The opposition in the country is traditionally weak and tries not to speculate on what is indisputable for the majority of the population. Otherwise, they would immediately be branded Nazis and accomplices of the policemen,” explains the Belarusian political scientist Artem Agafonov.
In Moldova , everything is no longer so simple, although for the vast majority it is still an important family holiday. Almost 400 thousand inhabitants of the republic took part in the war, about 84 thousand died. Every year, their memory is honored in a variety of ways – from car races to parachuting. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country lay flowers at memorials.
At the same time, representatives of the ruling elite believe that Moldova should have become part of Romania. President Maia Sandu banned the demonstration of the St. George ribbon in the country. And since she has Romanian citizenship, the opposition is trying to use the memorable dates of Soviet history against her. At the same time, since 2017, Europe Day has been celebrated in the republic along with Victory Day. If the first implies the defeat of the Nazis, then the second is the unification of Europeans.
“In Moldova, many do not want to politicize the holiday. For them, May 9 is the Day of Sorrow and Joy. There are disputes about when exactly to celebrate, but most believe that the festivities can be held from May 8 to 9 and no one will be worse off. Traditionally, people gather in families, drink a hundred grams, commemorate the dead. At the same time, the constant discussions of politicians cause negative emotions in part of society,” says Moldovan political scientist Vitaly Andrievsky.
In the Baltics, they are sure that the entire Soviet period was an occupation. They put an equal sign between fascists and communists, but at the same time they themselves honor the memory of the “forest brothers” and every year they organize processions of SS veterans and their supporters.
Until 2022, Victory Day was still somehow celebrated, after all, quite a lot of Russians live in the Baltic states. But in Latvia, May 9 has already been renamed the Day of Remembrance of those killed in Ukraine, a similar proposal will be considered in Lithuania. In all three republics, celebrations have been banned.
“For 30 years, the authorities have limited the celebration of May 9 in every possible way. They were annoyed by flags, ribbons, orders. The Immortal Regiment was banned, it cannot be held even under the slogan “For Peace.” In Latvia, there is a discussion about the demolition of the monument to the Liberator – this is a huge memorial complex , near which tens of thousands of people gathered every year. For small Latvia, this is a huge figure, especially on a working day. In general, from the state propaganda of the Baltic republics, we can conclude that those who were on the side of Hitler are national heroes, and those who fought with them – invaders,” says Andrey Starikov, editor-in-chief of Baltnews.
Since 2014, Ukraine has been trying to catch up with its Baltic allies in terms of anti-Soviet discourse. “Decommunization” was announced in the country and Victory Day was sacrificed to it. True, it was not possible to completely cancel it. During the years of the Great Patriotic War, Ukraine lost a fifth of its population: 1.3 million Ukrainians died at the front, another 1.3 million died in the Nazi camps. Targeted terror destroyed about 3.9 million civilians in the Ukrainian SSR . But criminal prosecution was introduced for the use of communist symbols, May 9 was left a day off, and May 8 was made the Day of Memory and Sorrow.
If earlier Ukrainians revered only Soviet defenders, now they were offered to remember the Nazis and their accomplices with tears in their eyes. In practice, this resulted in magnificent commemorative actions at the graves of the Nazis and provocations near the monuments.
However, with the beginning of the special operation, the situation began to change. For example, in Kherson on April 19, the Banner of Victory was raised, and in Genichesk, a monument to Lenin was restored.

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