Russia Victory Day Parade 2020: Why it matters


President of Russia Vladimir Putin looks on prior to the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, on June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.

Handout

Russia is holding its annual Victory Day parade in Moscow on Wednesday, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s capitulation in World War II.

As well as a day of national celebration, the parade allows Russia to show off the range of its military personnel and equipment to the world.  More than that, however, the event is seen as a way for President Vladimir Putin to cement Russian patriotism and his power base.

This year’s parade comes during an unprecedented global health crisis, and the event had to be rescheduled from its original date, on May 9, to June 24.

Nonetheless, preparations for the parade have been taking place in Moscow and Russia’s Ministry of Defense confirms that over 13,000 military personnel are taking part in the parade that will include 216 units of military equipment (ranging from tanks to armored vehicles to rocket launchers) and a fly past featuring 75 military aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters.

Russia political analyst Anton Barbashin told CNBC why the Victory Day parade matters so much to the Kremlin.

“Victory over the Nazi Germany is by far the biggest and the most significant historical event for contemporary Russia. For the Kremlin it is the most effective way to unite diverse peoples of Russia, it is used to legitimize Kremlin’s foreign policy aspirations and generally (the) Russian attitude towards great power status. In the past decade, its importance only increased as the Kremlin has been increasingly monopolizing its legacy,” he told CNBC Tuesday.

A Mil Mi-8 helicopter flies over Moscow during the dress rehearsal of the Victory Day air show marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Stanislav Krasilnikov

Russian referendum

This year’s parade would originally have come after a nationwide referendum that would have given the public a say (ostensibly) on changes to the Russian constitution. These would, among other things, enable Putin the freedom to run for further terms in office, potentially up to 2036, when his current term ends in 2024. Like the parade, however, the public vote was postponed and will now take place on July 1.

Barbashin noted that the June 24 parade was “supposed to be the grand finale of Putin’s own ‘victory year’.”

“The original Victory Day was supposed to be a sort of a celebration with a high number of foreign leaders coming to Moscow, symbolically accepting Russia’s new constitution,” he said.

Parade formations before the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, on June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.

Handout

The public vote on constitutional amendments has been dismissed by political experts like Barbashin, who said that as the new constitution had effectively already been agreed by the Russian Parliament, the public vote was a purely “symbolic approval of Putin’s prolonged rule that should legitimize Russia’s new constitution for both domestic and international…



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