How long will we remain caught in the toils of falsehoods? Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

An important section of Moldovan society continues being trapped in the toils of fake facts that were imbedded by the Soviet propaganda and are maintained by the current Russian propaganda machine that works at maximum capacity in the Republic of Moldova. It’s true that the Moldovan authorities try to counter the Russian propaganda, but do this very timidly and it’s not clear how long we will remain caught in the toils of falsehoods?...

Who still observes of February 23?

The day of February 23 is not officially celebrated in the Republic of Moldova. However, some of the Moldovan citizens continue to commemorate this holiday with roots in the Soviet past. It’s true that the significance of this day became vague. Respectively, some of the Moldovans celebrate the day of the Soviet army, while others celebrate the day of men who did their military service in the Soviet army. Currently, on the eve of one year of the start of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russia army – successor of the Soviet army, the day of February 23 is treated as a controversial holiday. It should be noted that in the aforementioned context, all the political parties in the Republic of Moldova refrained from congratulating their supporters on the occasion of the February 23 holiday. This happened for the first time in the contemporary history of the Republic of Moldova and this is the effect of Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine.

For the sake of truth, we should note that of the public institutions, only several mayor’s offices and the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia congratulated the soldiers and veterans on the occasion of the February 23 holiday. Also, a series of politicians formulated personal congratulations on this occasion, avoiding speaking in the name of parties they lead or of which they form part. It primarily goes to the president of honor of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), Igor Dodon, and other Socialist MPs. For comparison, one year ago, on the occasion of Ukraine’s invasion, the PSRM published on its official website an address  to the companions, men and veterans, congratulating them on the occasion of the Day of the Homeland’s Defender and also sequences of the commemoration of the Homeland’s defenders. The same day, the PSRM expressed its attitude to the tensions in eastern Ukraine after Russia recognized the independence of the separatist republics of Ukraine, and the eventual impact on the Republic of Moldova. Several days later, the PSRM vehemently condemned the Moldovan authorities’ attitude to the Russian aggression and the punishment of Russian media outlets that supported the aggression.

It is noteworthy that the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) also changed its attitude to the day of February 23 compared with the previous years. A year ago, for example, as the previous years, the PCRM addressed its supporters and the whole nation, congratulating them on the occasion of day of the Soviet army and marine fleet, expressing its regret at the fact that the given day wasn’t declared an official holiday in the Republic of Moldova. It is strange as the PCRM governed the country during eight years and in the period it could have solved any problem that causes regrets to it. But when the PCRM was in power, it was preoccupied with the eventual destabilization of the Republic of Moldova namely by Russia. Consequently, this year several MPs and supporters of the PCRM, alongside representatives of the Embassy of Russia decided to make a simple announcement: We commemorated and will yet commemorate, refraining from disseminating congratulations.

The recent change in the PSRM’s and PCRM’s attitude to the day of February 24, which turns into an individual holiday, can mean that the two pro-Russian parties, which during a year of war have preferred to keep silent about the crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, no longer believe in the victory of the invincible and legendary successor of the Soviet army.  

Defeat of February 23, 1918 – reason for holiday?!

There are tens of materials confirming that the Bolshevik army on February 23, 1918 was categorically defeated in the Battles of Pskov and Narva. The decree on the constitution of the red army was issued by Sovnarkom (Soviet government) on January 18, 1918 and could not have had ties with the day of February 23. Nevertheless, the Soviet propaganda in only four years, due to circumstantial reasons, decided to create a myth about February 23, 1918 – the day of the Red Army, when the units of the young red army allegedly defeated the Smyrna troops near Pskov and Narva. In fact, just the opposite happened. Nevertheless, starting with 1922, the day of February 23 has been celebrated as the first day of victory of the red army, respectively – the birthday of the invincible and legendary red army.

An article of the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Ilich Lenin entitled “A harsh, but necessary lesson”, which was published on February 24, 1918 in the evening edition of the newspaper “Pravda” (“The Truth”) is the most important proof of the defeat suffered by the red army on February 23, 1918. This is what Ilich wrote about “the victory” of the red army: “The painfully killing report about the regiments’ refusal to maintain positions, about the refusal to defend the Narva line, about the nonfulfillment of the order to destroy all and everything during the retreat; not to mention the escape from positions, chaos, incapacity, impotence, weakness...  The Soviet Republic does not have an army... A week of war against the Germans from which our troops fled since February 18 until February 24 fully proved this”. As we see, there were serious reasons to declare February 23, 1918 a day of the invincible and legendary Soviet army, weren’t there?

In fact, the researchers who studied the events of February 23, 1918 established that a small detachment of approximately 200 German soldiers captured Pskov town that day, without facing any resistance from the red army that left its positions, abandoning arms depots, food and munitions as huge trophies to the small German detachment. The German detachment reached Narva only on March 3. Yet, the commander of the regiments of the red army, Pavel Dybenko, a member of the Soviet government Sovnarkom, got to Narva on March 1 and had enough time to get ready for defending the town. But he didn’t do this as he came to the positions with several barrels of alcohol. Respectively, the preparations for the battle were replaced with tasting, alongside the comrades who took part in the putsch of November 7, 1917. Immediately after he was informed about the approaching small German detachment, Dybenko decided to leave Narva and his army comrades who, in panic, also ran away, abandoning the positions. So, this is how the invincible and legendary Soviet army was actually born.

Laying of basis of traditional Soviet values…

For his heroic deeds, the member of the Soviet government Pavel Dybenko was to be tried by a revolutionary tribunal and executed. By miracle, he was saved by his lover who was much older than the hero of the Narva battles. It goes to the famous Alexandra Kollontai, the first Soviet feminist who became also the first female prime minister in the first Soviet government. To save her lover from death, Kollontai decided to marry him, registering the first civil marriage in Soviet Russia, which is a marriage registered by the state authorities, not the church. For ideological reasons, in order to promote civil marriages and to save the reputation of the Soviet government one of whose members committed crimes against the Soviet homeland, the revolutionary authorities’ decided to acquit Pavel Dybenko, sending him to fight in Crimea. There, in the subtropical zone, Dybenko found another lover who was much younger than Alexandra, who, learning about the adultery, decided to file the first application for divorce in a civil marriage. Kollontai reported the happenings to Stalin, who later became the father of nations. Evidently, Alexandra remained faithful to the Soviet values she promoted, finding another lover who was much younger than Dybenko. For her sincerity, her exceptional capacities, the laying of the basis of the traditional Soviet values, for being the first in everything a) first feminist, b) first female minister, c) the first one who registered a civil marriage, d) the first who filed for a civil divorce, e) Alexandra Kollontai also became the first female diplomat, being named ambassador to Norway. This way, we convince ourselves that the first “victory” of the Soviet army has a much more profound significance than it was believed and the day of February 23 actually became one of the days when the traditional Soviet values, which are yet commemorated by the Moldovan Communist-Socialist as well, are celebrated. 

Who and by what methods created the real Soviet Army?

After the first commissar (minister) of naval affairs in the first Soviet government Pavel Dybenko displayed his “heroism”, on March 3, 1918 the Soviet government signed with the central Powers (Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria) the Agreement of Brest-Litovsk, known as the Brest Peace. Respectively, Soviet Russia conceded ¼ of the territories from the European part of the former tsarist empire, including the entire Ukraine together with Crimea, which were inhabited by approximately ¼ of the whole population.

In the aforementioned circumstances, on March 14, 1918 Sovnarkom named Leon Trotsky, who became the real creator of the Soviet Army, as commissar of military affairs. Taking up his duties, Trotsky admitted that he lacked knowledge in the military field. Instead, he had managerial skills and knew revolutionary methods for solving difficult problems. Respectively, in the process of creating the Soviet Army, he resorted first of all to the imposition of discipline by: decimating soldiers from regiments that lost positions during fighting; attracting former officers of the tsarist army into the army; taking hostage members of the families of former tsarist officers, etc. The justification of these measures was based on the famous thesis about the revolutionary necessity.   

The Soviet army accumulated the most valuable experience in the civil war of 1918-1923, in which it fought not only against the White Guardists, but also against millions of peasants who were deceived by the Soviet administration that confiscated their products, evidently for revolutionary necessities. In total, in that civil war that was victorious for the Soviet army, over 10 million Russian citizens were killed or died. After Germany was defeated in World War I owing to the exhaustion of forces and to communist diversions in the big German towns, the Soviet Army regained most of the territories conceded under the Brest Peace.

The Russian Empire, reconstituted in its Soviet variant, gradually evolved to totalitarianism. The Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin perfectly realized how dangerous the Soviet Army could be for his absolute power. That’s why he inspired the purge of the army, which is of the whole corps of senior officers, which ended in 1937-1938 with the killing of tens of thousands of officers. This is one more traditional Soviet value – destruction of the founders who contributed to building the new empire. 

Evidently, in the process of cleaning the army, Stalin didn’t forget about the heroic deeds of the first commissar of naval affairs, Pavel Dybenko, who was arrested on February 26, 1938, being accused of taking part in a fascist military conspiracy in the Red Army, of espionage for the U.S. and of ties with the executioner of peasants, Tukhachevsky. Respectively, he was tortured and had to plead guilty on all counts, except for espionage. On July 29, 1938, Dybenko was sentenced to death and was shot immediately.

The irony of fate is that in about a month of the execution of Dybenko, on September 9, 1938, the official paper “Pravda” started to publish, by chapters, Stalin’s famous masterpiece “Short History of the Communist Party of the Bolsheviks”, in which the great ruler noted that: “The armed intervention of the German imperialists caused a powerful revolutionary ascent all over the country... Near Narva and Pskov, the German occupants were decisively rejected... The day of the defeat of the German imperial troops, February 23, became the birthday of the young Red Army” whose main hero was Narkom member Pavel Dybenko! This is the method by which the day of a shameful defeat became the day of glory and bravery and continues to be celebrated by the Moldovan Communist-Socialists.

Memorable stages of the Soviet army and its successor...

The real creator of the Soviet army, Leon Trotski, was expelled from the USSR back in 1929. Even if he had been a political emigrant for over ten years, Trotsky, by order of Stalin, was killed, in August 1940, by NKVD agent Ramon Mercader, who for his revolutionary deed – killing of the real creator of the Soviet army – was awarded the highest title – Hero of the Soviet Union. It should be noted here that while the creator of the red army was being looked for by the NKVD killers, the main creature of this: a) already conquered Poland, alongside Hitler’s army with which he marched victoriously in the common parade in Brest; b) attacked Finland, conquering over 10% of its territory; с) gained control over the Baltic states and Bessarabia, in accordance with the provisions of the secret Protocol of the Soviet-Nazi Pact.

It is an undisputable truth that the Red Army, after Central and Eastern Europe was divided together with  the Nazi army, made a contribution that cannot be underestimated to destroying Nazism, alongside the British and American allies. But immediately after the end of World War II, the liberator army automatically became the main instrument for maintaining Soviet control over the counties of Central and Southeastern Europe.  In this quality, the Soviet Army took part: in the suppression of the anti-Communist rebellions in eastern Germany, in 1953; b) in Hungary, in 1956; c) in Czechoslovakia, in 1968. The last adventure of the Soviet Army was the participation, in 1979, in the extension of the Communist sphere of influence in Afghanistan. The last adventure decisively contributed to the weakening and later dissolution of the USSR and the main instrument of its policy – the Soviet army.

After the dissolution of the USSR, the Army of the Russian Federation became the successor of the Soviet army, acquiring not only the military equipment of the Soviet colossus, but also its expansionist reflexes. The whole world convinced itself of this on February 24, 2022. Before the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army manifested itself in World War I for restoring the constitutional order, offering a lesson to everyone – only Russia has the right to restore the constitutional order; other states do not have this right and should resort to the pacifying services of the Russian army. Or the Russian invasion is inevitable, as we convinced ourselves in the case of Georgia, in 2008, and of Ukraine, in 2014, but especially on February 24, 2022.

Respectively, on March 2, 2022, the UN General Assembly, with the votes of about ¾ of its members, adopted a Resolution demanding that Russia immediately end its military operations in Ukraine, asking that “Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders… immediately stop the use of force against Ukraine and refrain from any other illegal threat or use of force against any UN member state… immediately and unconditionally annul its decision on the status of particular regions of Donets and Luhansk Regions of Ukraine”.

On February 23, 2023, on the Soviet Army’s day, one day before it turned one year of the start of the Russian aggression, the UN General Assembly adopted, exactly by the same number of votes – 141 out of 193, the Resolution that underscores the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, reaffirming the commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, including within its territorial waters. Respectively, the General Assembly asked that the Russian Federation should immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.


An important section of Moldovan society continues being trapped in the toils of fake facts that were imbedded by the Soviet propaganda and are maintained by the current Russian propaganda machine that works at maximum capacity in the Republic of Moldova. It’s true that the Moldovan authorities try to counter the Russian propaganda, but do this very timidly and it’s not clear how long we will remain caught in the toils of falsehoods.

We must admit that under the influence of circumstances, the pro-Russian political forces in the Republic of Moldova feel embarrassed to exhibit their faithfulness to the deceptive Soviet values, as in the case of the holiday of February 23, but this does not mean that they renounced these values. The day of May 9 is expected to be the next test for the pro-Russian political forces, when we will see if they insist on exhibiting the ribbon of Saint Georgia and symbols Z and V that the apostles of war from the Russian imperial movement declared extensions of the war Alphabet, including of the Ukraine war.

The pro-Russian political forces in the Republic of Moldova camouflage their support for the Russian aggression under the pretext of insisting on our country’s neutrality status. They pretended to have forgotten that Hungary was invaded in 1956 namely because it decided to escape from Moscow’s influence, asking to have its status of neutral state that was recognized by the UN accepted. Pharisaical occupation…  

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