Par Florent Georgesco
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Inscribed since 2020 in the Russian Constitution, the glorification of the role of the USSR during the Second World War is used by Vladimir Putin to justify the invasion of Ukraine. A propaganda directly inherited from the Soviet era.
One of the mysteries surrounding the invasion of Ukraine is the apparent absurdity of Russian propaganda. “Denazification”, fight against a “pro-Nazi” government… Aggression, whatever its real aims, is invariably staged as the war of liberation of a Ukrainian people united to the Russians “by blood ties” – according to the words of Vladimir Putin spoken February 21 –, a people who would have “faced the rise of the nationalist extreme right (…) rapidly developing into aggressive Russophobia and neo-Nazism”.
The fact that such assertions bear no relation to reality, when the weight of the Ukrainian far right is marginal today, is so obvious that one might be tempted to write them off and profits. What war does not bring its flood of lies? Except that in pulling the thread of this speech over the long term, another evidence soon appears, of which we have perhaps not measured all the implications: the impossibility in which Russia now finds itself to present itself to the world other than as an anti-Nazi power, as the Putin regime made the 1945 victory against the Third Reich the foundation of its legitimacy, even of Russian identity.
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A victory by which, Putin said, commemorating it on May 9, 2021, “the Soviet people (…) freed the countries of Europe from the brown plague”. Nine years earlier, on May 9, 2012, he proclaimed, in the same circumstances: “Our country (…) has offered freedom to the peoples of the whole world. It was this liberator, this anti-Nazi heir to the USSR who, on February 24, entered Ukraine, pursuing his historic mission. In his morning intervention on television that day, Mr. Putin still declared: “The outcome of the Second World War is sacred. »
Between mourning and triumph
In a country which, in July 2020, amended its Constitution by introducing the celebration of “the memory of the defenders of the fatherland” and the prohibition of “minimizing the meaning of [leur] heroism”, it is not surprising that a historical reminder of this nature appears during the announcement of an invasion, even if this one has, in reality, nothing to do with it. But this implies that it is necessary to examine the construction of memory which then emerges. Not to bring out there what would form a unique cause of the events, but because no explanation would be valid without placing them on this background, whereas the Putin regime does not stop doing so by celebrating the Great Patriotic War, like the we said in the USSR and as we always say in contemporary Russia.
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