Great honour to save victory
By Kirill Dovlatov
On May 9th, Minsk traditionally organises a solemn parade from Oktyabrskaya Square to Pobedy Square, where wreaths and flowers are laid at the monument. Veterans either parade on foot or travel in open UAZ cars, each greeting one another by raising their hands in military salute. They share news on common acquaintances and a shadow appears across their faces on learning of those unable to attend. However, they immediately light up with delight when children approach to offer flowers and congratulations. What better reward for victory can there be than the new life of fresh generations? For the sake of this new life, they were ready to part with their own in the 1940s. We bow to them for their deeds...
The President joined the veterans on Victory Day, in the traditional festive parade, as always. He also greeted foreign ambassadors gathered at the Victory Monument, showing that Belarus is ready to engage in honest dialogue with any state, proceeding from principles of mutual respect and equal rights. Chatting with veterans, the President expressed his gratitude, noting, “People’s memory will remain alive as long as you live. Young people need you — so that they can see and understand the deeds you performed.” There was a sense that, if Mr. Lukashenko requested the former soldiers to enter the field of battle, they would immediately be ready to go. After the parade, the President spoke to journalists. Below are some extracts from his speech.
Have we succeeded in defending the right to preserve this memory, of this day? I spoke about it perhaps 15 years ago — when talking about such matters was unacceptable: responsible executives felt shy in speaking about this then. We were the first within the post-Soviet space to sound the alarm that attempts were being made to rewrite history. Accusing the former leaders of the Soviet Union was nothing but an attack on our victory. We put everything straight. Yes, there were many mistakes made in the past. Not everything went smoothly in our country but such things were to be expected at the time. Some major mistakes happened but nobody has the right to take this victory from us.
We won. Over 30m Soviet people gave their lives for this victory, while over 3m of our countrymen died, impacting on all post-war history. We saved mankind from the ‘brown plaque’, protecting Great Britain and the United States of America, which seemed to be far away from this theatre of military action. We saved the German nation from Nazism, for which ordinary Germans are grateful. Europeans are grateful to us for liberating Europe.
However, politicians do not remain idle. After the USSR’s collapse, there was an attack on our victory and, thank God, we defended it. The Russian President is, for the first time it seems to me, openly speaking of Nazism. He notes that the Soviet people were victorious over Nazism and that we are the inheritors of this Great Victory. Therefore, today, we can say with confidence that we have defended the victory given to us by our past generations. This is our victory.
There would have been no victory but for mass patriotism. We won thanks to the spirit of our Soviet people. They had not raditional weapons at the beginning of the war with which to defend the country. Soviets defended our land with their own blood. Would this be possible without patriotism? Patriotism is not just a weapon in our hands; it is found in the brains of people. This is our economic victory, preserving our social foundations and traditions. Patriotism is a multifaceted concept. In my opinion — and I call upon all Belarusians for this — patriotism lies at the heart of all our successes. Without patriotism, there is no success. We must love our homeland.
Look at the Americans, whose patriotism is even stronger than that of the Soviet Union. They are permeated with patriotism, engaged in wars of conquest in the belief of being right. Why shouldn’t we be patriots now? We must be even greater patriots, having such a history and traditions. Patriotism is essential. If you are a patriot, all else will follow. If you love your homeland and work for its good, this will generate economic successes, good salaries, development and well-being.