A new legislative proposal of the ruling party PAS is expected to be used by the anti-European forces as a reason for additional political tensions in the Republic of Moldova. It goes to the redefining of the Victory Day and the day of commemoration on May 9 of the heroes who died when defending the independence of the homeland, which is to become the Day of Commemoration and Reconciliation in memory of those who died in World War II and that will be celebrated on May 8. The informative note to the bill says that “such a bill needed to be drafted given the necessity of switching over to the non-ideologized interpretation and perception of historical data referring to World War II in Moldovan society.”
May 9 generates turmoil and destabilization
This legislative initiative clearly symbolizes the division in Moldovan society with regard to the general East-West orientation. For a year already, the posting of the symbols “Z” and “V”, which are used by Russian aggressors in Ukraine, has been banned by law in the Republic of Moldova. It is also banned the use of the black and orange ribbon of Saint George, which was transformed by the Kremlin’s propaganda into an emblem of the new Russian imperialism. At the same time, May 9 will be celebrated in the Republic of Moldova as Europe Day. In the yet profoundly divided Moldovan society in terms of the West-Russia orientation, this double significance of the Mau 9 holiday generates turmoil and destabilization.
Over the past 20 years, but primarily since the speech given by Vladimir Putin in Munich in 2007, which is justly considered the symbol of a principled twist of Moscow towards the revanchist imperial policy, the Kremlin’s propaganda has denatured the significance of the May 9 holiday almost fully. From the remembering of the sacrifices made in war, alongside the allies, the celebration of the May 9 holiday in the style of Moscow’s Putin became the symbol of the revenge against the West, which considered to blame for the collapse of the USSR.
Detachment from imperial symbols
It is normal for the pro-European government in Chisinau, implementing the European integration policies, which were massively validated by the Moldovan voters in the last presidential and parliamentary elections, to force the detachment of Moldovan society from the anti-Western and imperial symbolist of the Kremlin. The application of the European common law concerning the significance of the victory against Nazism in World War II perfectly matches the Europeanization policy of the Republic of Moldova. Similarly, the renouncing of the interpretation of the May 9 holiday in the spirit of the Russian imperialism certifies the efforts of the pro-European Chisinau to extend the full decolonization of the Republic of Moldova, including by enthroning the historical truth about World War II.
But this effort to Europeanize Moldovan society is consciously compromised by the Moldovan Socialists and Communists who fulfill the role of the fifth pro-Russian column in the Republic of Moldova. These already announced protests against the revision of the Kremlin’s position on the significance of the May 9 holiday, insisting defiantly on the public wearing of the bicolor ribbon of Saint Gheorghe, which became the symbol of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. They call on the Moldovan citizens who for decades have been hostage to the Kremlin’s propaganda, to take part in protests under the so-called victory flag, accepting the deceitful narrative of the Russian propaganda about the so-called rewriting of history. In one of the news conferences of the organizers of the pro-Kremlin protests, it was frankly said that “we must everyone unite under the victory flag and keep the memory, identity of the descendants of the winners”.
Stalinist approaches that are still in force
The preferred thesis of the Moscow propaganda about the interpretation of the significance of the May 9 holiday includes the blaming of the so-called rewriting of history of the Great Patriotic War. Even if the Russian official historiography of the post-Soviet period abandoned the so-called Soviet ideological clichés in the interpretation of history, this tendency almost wasn’t felt with regard to World War II. Here, the historiographical approaches that appeared since the Stalinist times were taken over almost intact by the contemporary Russian historiography and were placed in the service of state propaganda. Moreover, the May 9 victory day is used to legitimize the imperial aggression of current Moscow.
The Russian official historiography and propaganda speak about the May 9 victory day only as about the defeat of the German Nazism. But this is only a part of the truth. The establishment of Communist dictatorship in a series of states in Central and Eastern Europe is another facet of the victory of the Soviets in the war that led to the collapse of fascism. For Romania, in particle, for the Romanians form Bessarabia, World War II started on June 28, 1940, when the Soviet Union, in an alliance with Hustler’s Germany, attacked militarily Romania and annexed by the force of arms the Romanian land between the Prut and the Nistru. This act by Stalin and Hitler, through whose political-military alliance World War II started, is presented to the Moldovans by the Russian propaganda as an act of liberation.
Liberator or occupant Soviet soldier?
For those with Soviet nostalgia or those who support the Republic of Moldova’s orientation to Putin’s Russia, the Soviet soldier was the liberator, not the occupant. But an increasing number of Moldovans perceive the May 9 victory not only as defeat against fascism, but also as reediting of the Soviet occupation that militated the destinies of hundreds of thousands of Bessarabians who went through the organized famine and the Soviet Gulag. In 1946-47, the famine organized by the policies of the Soviet “liberators” killed over 200,000 people in Soviet Moldova. During 11 years, since 1940 until 1951, three large-scale deportations and thousands of local arrests and deportations were operated in the MSSR. In June 1941, there were deported 3,470 families of “anti-Soviet elements” (22,848 persons). On the night of July 6, 1949, 11,293 families with over 35,000 people, who were the most hardworking farmers devoted to the land, were deported by force to Siberia and other remote regions of the Soviet empire for dying there. In 1951, as a result of the “North” operation, 723 families of Jehovah’s Witnesses with goober 2,600 persons were forced to leave the homeland.
What level of impiety should a society reach to now tolerate, as Moldovan society does, the carrying of the portrait of Stalin – the executioner of our nation – on the streets of Chisinau by the descendants of the “liberators” on May 9. Today, the descendants of the so-called liberators who established the occupation regime in Moldova and terrorized for decades Moldova’s population oblige the descendants of victims of Communist repression to glorify the occupants by celebrating the May 9 holiday in the style and spirit of Soviet and Russian imperialism. It is an undisputable indicator that Moldovan society hasn’t yet gotten rid of its consistent segments of mentality of colonial obedience to the occupants, continuing to embrace the Stockholm syndrome, when the victim of an abuse shows emotional attachment to the abuser and even justifies the attitude of this.
A Europeanization test
With such collective mentality, Moldovan society cannot become European. This thing is realized by the pro-European government that tries by state policies to change the collective perception of spiritual values in society. The attitude to the significance of the May 9 holiday becomes crucial in the act of Europeanizing the Republic of Moldova, especially owing to the fact that the victory of the anti-Hitler coalition in World War II is crassly confiscated by Putin’s Moscow and is put in the service of the Russian imperialism under restoration. This way, the imbedding of the public perception that is dominant in Moldovan society of the European interpretation of the May 9 Victory becomes a test of Europeanization of the Republic of Moldova, of real gratitude of the Moldovan citizens for the sacrifice of the fighters against fascism in World War II.
IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.