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Our Right to Remember

Published : 27 Feb 2020 07:11 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 06:34 PM

Today the people of Russia and other nations are preparing for the solemn event – the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. We are awaiting a grand parade on Red Square and a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The march of the Immortal Regiment – a worldwide civil initiative – will be carried out again not only in Russia, but in many other countries as well. Hundreds of thousands of people will take part in these arrangements – those who cherish the memory of war veterans, home front workers and other heroes who worked hard to bring our Victory closer.

On the threshold of this commemoration one can pose two questions: what does May 9 mean for us, and why are some people trying to tarnish the image of Victory Day now?

In my opinion, the answer to the first question is quite clear. The peoples of the former Soviet Union and other countries were targeted by the insidious ideology of Nazism and became the victim of aggression from the most powerful, organized and motivated war machine of that time. The Soviet Union, sacrificing millions of lives of its citizens, played a crucial role in defeating Nazi Germany and, together with the Allies, liberated Europe from the fascist plague. This victory brought our world a new dawn, saving the entire nations from annihilation. In the aftermath, the UN was created laying the foundation stone for the world order based on collective security and international cooperation. 

Unfortunately, obvious attempts are being made to desecrate the memory of Victory in a number of countries.  Some individuals are trying to distort the historical truth in order to bury this memory and to convince the international community that time has come to stop the celebrations of Victory Day. Quiet regularly we hear the voices telling about the state-run “militarization” of the public consciousness in Russia through Victory Day parades and ceremonies. The accusations of rejecting humanism and other values inherent in the “civilized” world are brought by numerous politicians and experts. It will be more appropriate, they say, to forget about all the “past grievances,” and, just like some European nations, “tolerantly” build “forward-looking relations.” There is a growing trend of trying to smooth out “sharp edges” and to substitute military honors for heroes with “neutral” reconciliation events. Surely, we must look forward, but no one should forget the lessons of history. 

At the same time, those who are blaming Russia for “militarized” celebrations turn a blind eye to Nazi Germany-styled torchlight processions and the marches of veterans of Waffen-SS in some neighboring countries. Monuments are installed there honoring Nazi henchmen, while the memorials and graves of the Soviet warriors are destroyed. Is this a “demilitarization” of consciousness? 

Some people seek not only to diminish the role of the USSR in World War II but also to call our country an aggressor, similar to Nazi Germany spreading the idea of “equal responsibility.” The liberating mission of the Red Army is put on a level with the atrocities of Nazi war criminals and collaborationists. It is regrettable to witness the ongoing efforts to cast a shadow over the feat of our heroes. The above-mentioned “theorists” prefer to ignore the rulings of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which is an integral part of the modern international law. We would like to remind that these decisions unambiguously identified who was on the side of good and who was on the side of evil during the war.

Another disturbing sign is the refusal of some members of international community to back the UN General Assembly resolution on the inadmissibility of glorifying Nazism in all its forms, which is being advanced by Russia on an annual basis. In this context, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Government of Bangladesh for consistently supporting this document and its commitment to prevent the revival of the most barbaric ideology in the world history.

Sorry to say, but many propagandist myths and false interpretations of history are being actively introduced into the educational system of a number of countries. Young generations are being told that the ultimate contribution to the victory over Nazism was made by the Western Allies, not by the Soviet Union. The landing in Normandy, which was conducted less than a year before the defeat of the Third Reich, is portrayed as a pivotal point in World War II. Russia remembers and cherishes the role of all the Allies in our common Victory. Undoubtedly, any attempts aimed at driving a wedge between us are absolutely deplorable. At the same time, we want to make it clear: it was the USSR and its people who delivered the decisive blow to the Nazism. 

The so-called “alternative vision” of World War II and its outcome does not stem only from the lack of knowledge. Distorting the past, some politicians and propagandists want to bring into challenge the pillars of the world order approved in the UN Charter following the war. They are eager to build on a new system – the one based on the “law of the jungle”, where strength means more than truth. We decisively oppose this approach, which clearly paves the way to neo-imperialism, and call on every responsible UN member states, including Bangladesh, to preserve and maintain the central role of the Organization in international relations. May 9 Victory Day provides us a good opportunity to recall that awareness of the common threat helped the Allies to overcome differences in their political ideologies and socioeconomic models. They managed to build an architecture of international security based on the ideal of equal cooperation between sovereign states. We all must be guided by this commandment today to tackle the new global challenges, such as terrorism and climate change.

With regard to the celebrations of Victory Day, we want to reiterate our indispensable right to commemorate our fathers and grandfathers, who sacrificed their lives in a sacred liberation war, giving them all appropriate military honors, widely and with pride. We want to once again tell everyone that Russians, just like their ancestors, are ready to decisively repel any aggressor. At the same time, we want the world to know that our nation does not want any war. Our historical mission is to guard peace. Russia is offering a hand to anyone who wants to be good partners to us. 

We are confident that the citizens of Russia and other countries will be watching parades in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory and joining the Immortal Regiment with thoughts of peace in their minds. The memory of those who fell in battle fighting the enemies of the homeland, the enemies of civilization, will remain alive as long as we mark this great holiday. There is absolutely no reason for being alarmed of the scale of this celebration as May 9 symbolizes triumph of good over evil, salvation and hope, not only for us, but for the whole world.

H.E. Alexander I. Ignatov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh