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 Putin is waging a war of symbols to humiliate Ukrainians - Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin handed out medals in a special ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of World War II Feb. 20. It is also striking for the contrast to Ukrainian celebrations on the same day. Ukrainians commemorated a completely different day, the moment the Maidan protests turned bloody.

Censor.NET reports citing the article in Washington Post by american historian Elizabeth Wood.

The article reads: "This would not be so remarkable - he has handed out literally dozens of such medals over his years in power - were it not for the visual montage on his kremlin.ru Web site. There he is pictured standing in front of guards bearing banners that read "First Ukrainian Front," "Second Ukrainian Front," "Third Ukrainian Front," and "Fourth Ukrainian Front." On the one hand, these are the banners of those receiving the medals. On the other hand, the message seems designed to signal that the Kremlin leadership still considers Ukraine an integral part of the nation.

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"Officially, he gave out the medals as part of the "run-up" to the Feb. 23 holiday, the Day of the Defense of the Motherland (the holiday known as Red Army Day in Soviet times). While this was probably planned many months in advance, it is also striking for the contrast to Ukrainian celebrations on the same day. In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Ukrainians commemorated a completely different day, the moment the Maidan protests turned bloody. On this day, according to the BBC,over 50 people were killed last year after Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, now reputed to be in Crimea, gave the order for troops to use live ammunition on demonstrators.

"For Putin, World War II has become a talisman and touchstone, a "holy day" [sviatoi prazdnik]. The problem with fixating on "holy" days is that they mean the speaker - and here it is the president of the largest country in the world - is looking backward toward a mythic time of holy warriors. But the current Russian mythologization of that war also contains a number of outright falsifications and dangerous tendencies. Of these the most importance is the practice of referring to the war as lasting from 1941-1945 (an American practice as well, I might add). This ignores the Soviet military annexation of the territories of Poland and the Baltic States in 1939-40. Parts of what is now Western Ukraine were occupied at the very start of the war in September 1939.

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"Russian panegyrics to "holy Russia" ignore as well the repressions of the many nationalities deported during the war. They ignore the fact that the Soviet Union almost lost the war because of Stalin's decimation of his own top military in the purges of the late 1930s. And they ignore the fact, that the vaunted "buffer zone" of the occupied territories was actually much harder for Moscow to control and defend than genuine Allied territories would have been because the countryside in those regions was riddled with partisans.

"Today, Vladimir Putin is waging a war of words but also a war of symbols. To show the banners of the different Ukrainian fronts arrayed behind him is to ignore the complexity of World War II, the deep trauma of the peoples then who went through the war to find themselves in a different country afterwards. And it is also to ignore the sufferings of the Ukrainians on the Maidan on February 20, 2014, who were mowed down by their own police. Above all, it is to blatantly show disregard for the Ukrainians from Donetsk, Luhansk and now Debaltseve who have been displaced and for the thousands who have died.

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"Thus this day of handing out medals has thus become a kind of Soviet competition for being worthy of the memory of grandfathers, of being a "guy" by killing people and honoring people who do so. Militarized masculinity becomes the core of both heroic and ordinary masculinity. The grandfathers and token grandmothers being honored in the Kremlin barely had room for another medal.

"Unfortunately, giving medals for "glory" without any reference to the tragedy of lives lost, displaced, and wounded is a show that has too many spectators," historian Elizabeth Wood wrote.

Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n326600