Victory Day

Victory Day is coming up over here. It's a holiday to commemorate the victory over facism and the end of WWII in Europe. It's a pretty big deal over here, there's always a parade for the veterans. This year is an especially big deal as it's the 60th anniversary of Victory Day. Every night on TV (Canal Inter, I think) they have information about specific battles and city sieges in Ukraine and you'll see items on the news about local preperations for the celebration. I had originally wanted to visit Moscow to see the celebrations there. But when I was talking to an acquaintance that lives there (whose father is a WWII veteran), he informed me that the only way you can get on Red Square to see the parades and such would be if you were specially invited. It's going to be quite a to-do there. The parade will be huge and there will be a ton of world leaders in attendance. So instead I'll be checking out the festivities in Kiev and I'll take a trip over May Day weekend instead of Victory Day (to Tallinn though, not Moscow...check for pictures next Monday or Tuesday).

Anyway, the trip to Tallinn and the festivities for Victory Day got me thinking. Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus all have reason to celebrate Victory Day, but what do the Baltic countries think about it? All Victory Day meant for them was 45 odd years of direct Soviet occupation. How does Poland look at it? Sure, they were liberated from the fascists, but all that meant was Nazis were replaced with Communists. Great. So I looked it up last night, and Victory Day (May 9th) isn't a holiday in the Baltics. Instead (in Estonia anyway), they have TWO independence days (one for their original independence in 1919 and one for their Soviet independence in 1989. Plus a Victory Day to mark the battle they won to secure their independance in 1919. It also looks like this isn't a holiday in Poland or Hungary and in the Czech Republic the celebrate liberation on May 8th, since that's when Patton rolled into Western Bohemia and no longer mark the Soviet day of May 9th (The Slovaks seem to do the same thing).

So, after spending time looking at all this I was pleased to see an Anne Applebaum column on this very subject in today's Washington Post. It's interesting, go read it. She points out that the Moscow festivities will be attended by Bush 43. They'll apparently also be attended by other luminaries such as Belarussia's resident lunatic dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. I really hope that on May 10th I don't wake up to a photo of Bush and Lukashenko as embarrassing as this one of Bush with Prince Abdullah. Don't we have some sort of democracy spreading policy now? Sheesh.