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How the Putin regime uses the memory of WWII

29 minutes
How the Putin regime uses the memory of WWII

Victory in the Second World War, in Europe anyway, came a day later to the Soviet Union. That’s a technicality, of course. Germany’s definitive surrender was signed late in the evening on May 8, and it was already May 9 to the east in Moscow. This month marks the 78th anniversary of that victory, and though the West has enjoyed one more calendar day in this post-war world than Moscow, the defeat of the Nazis has remained central to Russian national identity and political culture in ways that would probably make your head spin if you’re from Europe or North America.

On this week’s episode, Meduza looks at the role of Victory Day in modern Russia, focusing on memory politics and how the Putin regime uses the holiday and the legacy of the Second World War generally to achieve its own ends during Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. At the time of this release, May 9 is just a few days away, and the holiday is unusual this year because numerous cities across Russia have actually canceled their public parades and moved festivities back to the virtual spaces they inhabited at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The war in Ukraine has forced some changes in one of Russia’s holiest of holidays.

This week’s guest is Dr. Allyson Edwards, a lecturer in global histories and politics at Bath Spa University in England. Her research specializes on the topics of Russian militarism, youth militarization, and the use of history and commemoration.

Timestamps for this episode:

  • (5:41) How did the Russian state’s modern-day WWII mythology come to be?
  • (11:49) What might today’s Russian militarism look like without the Great Patriotic War?
  • (13:39) What happened to the anti-militarism side of Victory Day?
  • (16:33) Is this Putin’s militarism or Russia’s militarism?
  • (18:24) What role does “humiliation” play in all this?
  • (20:59) The Immortal Regiment
  • (23:06) This year’s parade cancelations

New episodes of The Naked Pravda are released at the end of every week. Catch each show by subscribing through Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or one of these other platforms. If you have a question or comment about the podcast, please write to Kevin Rothrock at [email protected] with the subject line: “The Naked Pravda.”

Sound editing and mixing by Kevin Rothrock

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