The Other Russia reports:
As Russia celebrates the 66th anniversary of the Nazi’s capitulation in World War II, 83-year-old veteran Anton Karavanets describes his life like this: “I live the life of a pauper, I feel redundant in my own country, the country I once risked my life for. Yet another anniversary since the end of the Second World War is approaching, and there are fewer and fewer of us, war survivors, left.”
Despite repeated promises from the Russian government to ensure a good life for its veterans, Karavanets is not alone in his sentiments. Feeling abandoned, some have returned their medals as they literally struggle to survive in abysmal conditions.
As United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov argues, Russia’s ruling regime has offended its veterans in the worst possible way: by essentially carrying out the work of the Third Reich.
In Brezhnev’s time, Victory Day began to be actively used to strengthen the ideological basis of the Soviet system. Victory in the Great Patriotic War became not just a symbol to bring society together, but a central element of Soviet propaganda, justifying growing socio-economic problems and all the crimes of the Stalin era. Naturally, the real history of the Great War was sacrificed for a semi-official myth that worked to their advantage.
But for all the satirical attempts to present Brezhnev as a significant participant in military actions, that generation of ruling Soviet leaders had a direct link to the war all the same – they experienced the ordeal in one way or another. The Putin regime’s exploitation of the military theme cannot be called anything other than a tragic farce. The Soviet regime concealed its anti-Western essence with peace-loving rhetoric, and today aggressive rhetoric serves as a cover for the integration of the corrupt Russian elite into the Western financial and economic establishment.
The promises repeated year after year to fix veterans’ problems sound of mockery. There are fewer and fewer people left who took part in the Great Patriotic War, but even with the treasury overflowing with petrodollars, the government does not feel it necessary to give them the opportunity to live out their days in good conditions and give them the benefits that these people have earned by their feats. The constant assurances that apartments and cars will be provided for them conclude with the provision of pitiful rations. Those who held out under the hail of bullets from the Wehrmacht’s elite divisions are mockingly used by a government rolling in gold as a decoration for ritual presentations.
The Kremlin leaders sprawled out on their armchairs watching the Victory Day parade perhaps only symbolize the victory of a thieving regime over an entire country. Under the leadership of Putin, a former Dresden resident spy, the basic tenets of the Third Reich in regards to Russia have been carried out. The country has turned into a raw materials appendage for the civilized world, the population is defenseless before bureaucratic and police lawlessness, social infrastructure is in a pitiful state, the most talented and capable young people are breaking away to the West in search of a better life, and funds made from selling natural resources are kept in Western banks and used to develop other countries, most of all European ones.
I’d like to say that this all happened without a single shot, but this, of course, is not the case. The bloody events of October 1993, two Chechen wars, terror in the North Caucasus, and the murders of journalists and political opponents accompanied the formation of the current regime. Without question, this bloodshed is nothing compared to what happened seventy years ago. But the country that withstood the onslaught of Hitler’s tanks has turned out to be defenseless in the face of the acute forms of theft of its ruling elite.
The ostentatious renaming of the militsiya to the politsiya can also be seen as a mockery of history, as if the only thing needed to complete the picture of the occupying regime was a police element. Any illusions that it’s possible to somehow negotiate with this regime are, at a minimum, a dangerous misconception, and any sort of work for the government is collaboration. The occupying regime is not going to change as a result of work to improve it from within. It will fall only after clashing with the organized resistance of the entire population.