7 July 2022, Thursday, 4:04
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Holiday That is No Longer With You

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Holiday That is No Longer With You
Iryna Khalip

Lukashenka and Putin have destroyed a long-standing historical trend

Have you noticed that this week we've had a holiday? I didn't. So, it's an occasional day off. It might appear due to a complicated rescheduling. Then we'll have to work on Saturday. Or not. After all, does this day off really matter? Whatever. No one can remember or explain where it came from.

For two decades, the two allied dictators did everything possible to completely disavow the victory over fascism in the Second World War. Putin used pathos as an instrument of destruction, while Lukashenka used buffoonery. Mummers with austere faces and banners wandered around Moscow, vehicles with St. George's ribbons and "thanks for the victory to grandfather" written crookedly on cardboard drove around, every sort of "Immortal Regiment" wandered around from morning to night to festive music, state-sponsored, big-budget pathos films were shot with an intolerable number of heroes and heroic deeds and an equally intolerable lack of artistic content and a shred of taste. This pathetics made one cringe, although some people liked it because they were seen as a kind of perverted aesthetics. Hypertrophied "victorious" hysteria is a damn good definition after all.

In Minsk, it was different. At parades, they drove toilet bowls and rotary harvesters on carriages, a cartoon Russian biker Zaldostanov carried a red banner through the city, Kolya dressed up in a marshal's uniform and General Shunevich in a NKVD uniform, nuns and strippers walked shoulder to shoulder, waving St. George ribbons. Perhaps, Lukashenka did not understand that it was a buffoonery. Perhaps, he thought it was beautiful. Perhaps, he sincerely believed in his father who died at the front.

But no matter what roads - country roads, asphalt, gravel roads, snow-covered roads - the two dictators moved along, they eventually met at the same dead-end: on May 9, 2022, when celebrating Victory Day suddenly became embarrassing. Putin and Lukashenka have probably not even realised yet what they have done - one by his invasion of Ukraine, the other by his total support. With this war, they have destroyed a long-standing historical trend.

They have bombed pride, gratitude, memory. The Russian missile fired from Luninets hit the precise target: the part of the common past we could still be proud of. Now there is nothing left. Just an occasional day off. Propagandists, fondly telling about thousands of Belarusians who took to the streets to celebrate the Victory, lied, as usual. Because that is not why they came out. Those who were caught by the state television camera as a celebrating crowd were not rejoicing at all on the anniversary of the victory over the Nazis. They went out for a drink and a snack: just an extra day off, and drinking in public places is nowadays possible without any risk of being sentenced to 15 days in jail. And some mummers sing and dance to entertain the wandering public. Great! And no matter what date it is - May 1, May 9, May 32, 18th Brumaire - the main thing is the day off, nice weather, barbeque and beer in the streets. These are the components of a good day.

And those who have always celebrated 9 May shut the curtains tightly before the fireworks this year for the first time and did not drink to the victory. Its meaning, its value, its blood were simply destroyed by two impostors. Those who became the aggressor have no moral right to celebrate the victory over fascism. It is not their holiday. But if they have taken it away from us, as they have taken away so much more, then we go into hiding. We will celebrate separately from them. For example, we will celebrate the victory over Nazism on May 8, like the rest of Europe. We will quietly remember our fallen. We will fight for freedom and victory. And we will set new holidays. Agree, the day of Ukrainian victory in the war with Russia will undoubtedly become a holiday for the whole Europe. And then we will come up with our common main holiday. It does not matter what day it will be. But I know for sure what it will be called: Victory Day over Evil.

Iryna Khalip, especially for Charter97.org