Are Russians proud of Russia and why

War memorial: Pride and deterrence - Putin celebrates biggest military parade

As the commander in chief of the proud nuclear power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in top form for days. He has just opened a large military church on the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Hitler's Germany. He also wrote a major essay on the lessons of World War II.

In it, the 67-year-old warned once again against dragging the Red Army's services in the liberation of Europe from the Nazis in the mud. And now, despite the corona pandemic, the climax of war commemoration: the largest military parade in Russian history.

More than 13,000 soldiers marched in parade uniform in picture-perfect weather on Red Square to the live music of a military orchestra. In the stands, a visibly satisfied Kremlin chief attended the bombastic weapons show in the presence of war veterans and international guests. Tanks, air defense systems and of course nuclear-armed ICBMs rolled past the Kremlin walls - the pride of the Russian armed forces and a deterrent for the enemy. To mark the anniversary, 75 air force aircraft and helicopters shone in the sky.

The memory of the 27 million victims of the Soviet Union in the Second World War is sacred in Russia, Putin emphasized on this summer day. "We are invincible when we are united," he said on Victory Day on May 9th - back then in the rain. Because of the corona pandemic, he refrained from major celebrations. Now - seven weeks later - the situation on the Corona front doesn't look much better. Nonetheless, everything in Russia has been about fame and honor for days.

New school law

With a law initiated by Putin, children in school are now to be taught how to honor war heroes at an early stage. For a long time now, the president's national patriotic policy has been trying to unite the country on the basis of the memory of the great victory. History, including heroes' memory, is the "glue" of society, writes the Moscow Carnegie Center think tank in an analysis. On the other hand, critics accuse Putin of a backward-looking policy.

In Moscow, the debate about the meaning of the parade in times of the corona pandemic never stopped. The World Health Organization warned of the risk of infection at mass events. Many Russian cities canceled the parades because of the danger. Most of the invited foreign guests also stayed away. The Kyrgyz President Sooronbaj Scheenbekow landed in Moscow, but did not come to the celebration because there were two corona cases in his delegation.

Putin - like most of the participants without a protective mask - recently said that the victory celebrations are a special sign of appreciation for the victims of the war and for their families. He greeted several war veterans personally. The new date for the festival was close to his heart: on June 24, 1945 there was the first parade after the end of the war under the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. A historic event.

But the march is not only controversial because of the corona virus. The cost of the parade of an estimated 925 million rubles (around 12 million euros) is under criticism. Kremlin critics consider such spending to demonstrate military strength in times of dire economic problems to be irresponsible. The asphalt destroyed by the tanks, the fuel and the safety precautions - all of this would cost the state dearly, said anti-corruption fighter Alexei Navalny.

"And then you add to that the expenses for the treatment of all those people who became infected by this nonsensical parade during the height of the epidemic," said the Kremlin opponent. He had repeatedly criticized that Putin was only interested in beautiful pictures and not in people's health. The city of Moscow recommended that citizens prefer to watch the spectacle on television. Even so, there were tens of thousands of onlookers on the streets.

For Putin, the major event in the presence of international guests is also a return to the stage of world politics after weeks of isolation in his suburban residence. He campaigned once again for an international security system so that dangers to the world could be averted.

For Putin, the controversial mass events continue. The vote on the historic constitutional amendment is scheduled for July 1, which is intended to secure him permanent power. The next great war memorial is planned for July 26th: the march of the "Immortal Regiment". Hundreds of thousands of people carry portraits of their relatives from the days of the war through the streets. (APA / dpa)