Russia and the War

There are some things russians strongly beleive in: the Earth is round, Russia is the biggest country on the Earth, Russians won the Second World War.  To cover the third beleive about the victory I went to Stalingrad (nowadays – Volgograd) to see how the city is getting ready for the Parade. The Parade will happen at 9th of May – the 70th anniversary of the Victory.  Stalingrad as one of the most famous places in the WW2 history has a huge monument “The Motherland Calls” with a woman holding a sword behind her head. The population of the town is strongly proud of the monument.    The first thing which will draw your attention in this town is the Gumrak airport, which was bould by the German army in 40-s and probably still was not renovated.

The airport is located in a low between two hills. This was chosen by Germans in 40-s to protect the airport from the russian attacks. In 2015, when russians are not going to attack their own airport this location is very bad for a civil aviation, since the fog is a frequent guest on the runways.

Moving forward. The roads are bad. Maybe because tanks from the Second World War are still being used to clean the town from the snow.       Most of the roads doesn’t have any kind of marking. When I was learning how to drive the main assignment from the instructor was “avoid the holes on the road” not to brake the car.     I’d like to say couple of words about “marshrutkas” the shuttle buses in yellow colour (the one on the picture above) which are made to transport unlimited amount of people all along Stalingrad. You can see the example on the picture above. The price for one trip varies from 20 cent to 1 euro, depending on the distance. Every time you get into “marshrutka” you tell where you are going and pay the price. The driver is busy and never ready to communicate with you. If it’s some point he thinks you are not nice, he would not answer. But after a minute will start to scream “Where are the money for the drive?” driving with his one hand and holding a mobile phone in another one.     There are 2 sitting places next to the driver, 16-17 behind him and unlimited amount of standing places. I do beleive that sometimes they have about 40 people inside. This happenes in rush-hours when people are just stuck as close as they can to each over and God knows how they manage to hold when the bus is driving (see the roads above). Let’s add a +30 heat to it and “famous smelly russian men”. Ah yes! And the music! Songs about years in prison and vic’s life. Drivers of “marshrutkas” really love that. Probably because they are a former prisoners.  So far with a help of “marshrutka” we got to the center of the city from the airport. We look up and see billboards with a lot of military stuff.  And Stalin’s face      We are heading to the shop to buy something to drink, cause it’s hard to keep standing outside on the heat. Suddenly we see a bookstore and again Stalin.   That’s pretty much everything what the bookstore has, not counting cooking books and fantasy. The next point of interest is a regular school. Getting inside I found a photos of militarized pupils headed with a portrait of Putin.

 All this is an experience to learn what is WW2 for Russian politicians and the nation in general. The idea of a Victory in the Second World War is a powerful source for Russian national identity and great tool for political control. It’s hard to criticize anything, connected with the “Victory subject”, because any comment will strongly offend “pure russian feelings”.

The “feelings” are getting much stronger with the Victory’s anniversary. Take an example with twerking dance group from Southern city of Russia. The colors of girl’s dresses remind a colors of national symbol of the Victory: Ribbon of Saint George. This strongly hearted “pure russian feelings” -> the school was closed down and the dance teacher might face 15 years in jail.

70 years. Quite a bit of time…

I said to a young girl from Stalingrad: “Maybe a war is something from the past? We’d better spend our money and energy for doing something for a future”.

She got very offended and answered: ” We are loosing our history and don’t respect the veterans, because of people like you!”

Might be. But somehow I believe that those veterans would prefer to have a calm, nice last years of their life somewhere in a cozy house in the clean wealthy countryside, without thinking about money and suffering from the bad welfare system.

And they are probably ready to give as a sacrifice “yearly day of fame” for that.

The “anti-xenophoby part”

To be negative towards something you don’t understand and not used to see is very simple. It would be subjective to cover such a big issue as “Russia and the War” without historical ex-course and explanation what the WW2 means for Russians. I skipped the official military parade in the 9th of May and went out in the afternoon to ask people for an explanation what is the 9th of May. The materials came up as a news report.

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