May 4 – May 10, 2020
Belarus-Russia relations

Belarus held a massive military V-Day parade; Lukashenka persistently interferes with Russian domestic politics

The situation got worse
Belarus held a massive military V-Day parade; Lukashenka persistently interferes with Russian domestic politics

By Valeria Kostyugova

On May 9th, Minsk held a military parade to commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany. The fact that Lukashenka held a full-scale military parade during the COVID outbreak and delivered a speech has evidenced that the Belarusian president is deeply involved in leading the pro-Soviet opposition in the world and especially in Russia.

Turkmenistan was the only state, other than Belarus, to hold a military parade among the anti-Hitler coalition states. However, Turkmen parade relied on national symbols, bearing little resemblance with Soviet parades. Due to coronavirus, all other WW2 winners held truncated ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Victory, including Russia.

In Belarus, a full-scale military parade was held, including marching troops, military equipment displays, and surviving veterans, all with open faces and hands. The public was mostly without protective gear, too. The celebration style was entirely Soviet.

The symbolism of this action has strengthened Lukashenka’s claims for leadership among the pro-Soviet opposition in the world, appealing, primarily, to Russia, who has built her identity as the USSR successor. Yet since 2014, discontent has been growing in Russia over the incomplete appropriation of Soviet history by the Kremlin. The pro-Soviet opposition blames the Kremlin that the annexation of Crimea did not lead to the establishment of Novorussia, that the Kremlin did not support and betrayed the DPR and LPR, and now has ‘betrayed’ the memory of the Victory.

The coronavirus outbreak amid falling oil prices has significantly speeded up to such processes. In the logic of the pro-Soviet opposition, because the Kremlin rejected the Soviet legacy, including abandoning superior healthcare, the army, and equal distribution of riches, it was trapped by the “world government”, aspiring to lure the world nations into a digital dictatorship. Belarus’ arguments when addressing the coronavirus outbreak are fully consistent with the post-secular opposition values.

Due to the absence of coronavirus-related restrictions in Belarus and the military parade held on V-Day, Lukashenka’s popularity among the pro-Soviet opposition has grown sharply. Moreover, in the present conditions, such opposition is not harmless.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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