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Bitter taste of Victory Day in Western Ukraine (The Voise of Russia, Russia)
The Voise of Russia, 10.05.2011

Explicit neo-Nazism, attempts to rewrite history, an outburst of extremism this is how experts call the provocations of ultra-nationalists during the celebration of the Victory Day in the city of Lvov in Western Ukraine.

The Ukrainian nationalists almost suceeded in destroying Victory Day celebrations in Lvov. They burned and trampled red flags and blocked people from approaching to lay ribbons at the the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The most barbarous act by the thugs was the trampling of a wreath, which was supposed to have been laid at the military cemetery by the Russian General Consul Oleg Astakhov. We hear from journalist Vladimir Sinelnikov, one of the witnesses of the events in Lvov:

"What happened in Lvov is typical. People are not allowed to march with the flags of Victory, with St.George ribbons and if someone dares to do so they attack him, beat him. The local police seem to turn a blind eye on all this. This was the case under presidents Kuchma and Yushchenko and now under Yanukovich. But this year the nationalists have got so outrageous that they even attacked the Russian diplomats when they were carrying a wreath to the monument to the Soviet soldiers who had sacrificed their lives liberating Lvov from the Nazis."

Now we can also see the growth of nationalist sentiments in Western Europe. Ultra-right parties have won the elections in Scotland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Denmark. One of the most recent examples is Finland where the True Finns party received 20% of votes. However the national sentiments in Europe and in the former Soviet republics are two different things, Alexander Dyukov, head of the Historical memory fund says. In the first case the growth of nationalism is linked with people’s disappointment in the project of European integration and multiculturalism. The growth of neo-Nazi sentiments on the territory of former Soviet republics can be explained only by the wish of some political groups to come to power, Dyukov says:

"The Victory over Nazism is a very important memory for all countries of the Post Soviet area, first of all for Russia, but also for Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Baltic States. But the political elite, which came to power in some of these countries, first of all anti-Russian elites, are trying to build their policies by distancing themselves from Russia. The rejection of the heritage of the Great Victory is one the methods to split the society and to stress their European choice."

However it is difficult to call this choice a really European one, Vladimir Zorin, Deputy Head of the Institute of ethnology and anthropology says:

"Unfortunately, we see that the young generation begins to forget the lessons and of the Second World War. And partly it is also our fault - the fault of the grown up people who don’t pay enough attention to the teaching of history in schools."

At the same time, Vladimir Zorin stresses, the events in Lvov are not representative for the whole of Ukraine. In most of the Ukrainian cities the Victory Day celebrations were held under the motto “This is our joint victory”.

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