A large-scale propaganda show prepared by the Kremlin for May 9, 2020 has been in the works for a long time. Since it is 75 years after the end of World War II, it was appropriate to emphasize the underlying myth of Russia as a country that “liberated the world from fascism.” Such a one-sided propaganda narrative encourages national pride, but regularly causes attacks on neighbouring countries, including Estonia. Propastop has written about these cases several times recently.
The pandemic has disrupted Putin’s plans. The threat of the virus does not allow for the mass gatherings, parades and processions that traditionally take place on Victory Day. The celebration of the event has been postponed to the autumn and it is not yet clear to anyone exactly if and how it will all be done.
Go to the cemetery or not?
In connection with May 9, in Estonia the Kremlin has traditionally encouraged the delivery of flowers to the Bronze Soldier and the march of the immortal regiment. This year, however, leaders of the Estonian Russian-speaking community, veterans’ organizations and march organizers have called to avoid visiting cemeteries and public gatherings. Due to the special crisis situation, it is recommended to remember the family members who died in the war at small family gatherings at home instead.
Many Kremlin-minded activists are dissatisfied with this course of events, spreading the opinion on Social Media that they will still go to the cemetery. The Russian embassy in Estonia also has set a bad example by posting pictures on Facebook showing carnations being taken to the Bronze Soldier, which is undergoing repairs.
May 9. social media
Since it is recommended to avoid large gatherings, different actions on Social Media or somes have appeared. Consequently, an association that collects donations for Red Army veterans invites you to add a May 9 badge to your account profile picture.
A second call-up invites you to exchange your profile picture for a Red Army veteran photo. It is hoped that “the entire Russian-language Internet will become one great immortal regiment.”
A third party is spreading the idea of listing the days until Victory Day by posting selfies with a counter of the days left until the event.
In Narva, a group is agitating the people to celebrate the anniversary by playing the song “Victory Day” on May 9 at noon, singing along and shouting “Hurrah!”
The Kremlin has also launched several internet campaigns. For example, the “Immortal Regiment without Borders”, which encourages the posting of thematic photos and videos and as a prize, promises a trip to Moscow. There are also events called “Victory Letters” and “Victory Songs”, organized by the Kremlin’s soft power organizations and distributed by the Russian Embassy and local activists.
Bronze night commemorative actions
The events of April 26 happened also during the same time of the year; consequently, it has now become a kind of Victory Day warm-up performance. This year, as well, pro-Kremlin activists performed in the green area of Tõnismäe despite the threat of the coronavirus. The Russian embassy, for its part, is trying to present Dmitry Ganin, who was killed in the riots of the Bronze Night in 2007, as a martyr, by posting photos of flowers being laid on his grave.
Year after year, May 9 has brought fewer and fewer people to public events. On Saturday this week, it will be revealed whether the call-ups to avoid rallies are working or whether a propaganda-driven show is considered more important than people’s health and well-being.
Images: Screenshots of web pages and postings referenced in the story.