The tanks parade through Moscow like every May 9 to mark the victory over the Nazis. But this time, the offensive in Ukraine disputes in the minds the homage to the sacrifice of the Soviet soldiers.

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Ania, in her twenties and who conceals her last name, says she is from Mariupol, a Ukrainian city in the grip of the most terrible fighting since the offensive ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, officially to defeat the Ukrainian “neo-Nazis”. engaged in an alleged genocide of Russian speakers.

“I’m very grateful to Putin for what he’s doing, because what was going on there was going nowhere. We must defeat this Nazism like our grandparents” in 1945, says the young woman, on the arm of her companion Vova, on the new Arbat street.


“There must be no Nazism in the country,” she repeats, wearing a small military hat and a St. George ribbon on her chest, symbol in Russia of the “Great Patriotic War” of the USSR versus Germany.


Irina, in her forties and also wishing to remain anonymous, came to the military parade to pay tribute to her two grandfathers who fought Nazi Germany.

For her, it is this memory that should be celebrated and not the Russian commitment in Ukraine.

“You shouldn’t draw this parallel, these are completely different times,” she said, sunglasses on her nose, de facto contradicting the Russian president.

In the repressive Russian context, she does not advance much more, hoping that “all this will end quickly”.


On this Monday morning, an unusual silence descended on the city center, bristling with red flags and squared by the police. Then we heard them: the tanks, the anti-missile systems and the huge ballistic missiles hitting the asphalt with their chains and their tires.

Hands go up to say hello to the soldiers perched on their mounts.

If clusters of spectators wave small Russian or Soviet flags, the jubilation of other years was not there.

Contacted by AFP, Anna, a 35-year-old blogger, preferred to spend the morning in bed wearing noise-canceling headphones.

The din of the parade, she had “not found it frightening for 35 years. This year, it’s very scary.”

“I can’t stand anything military anymore. Before, it was associated with peace and the defense of the fatherland, this is no longer the case, ”she confides, preferring to keep her name silent too.

“I have the impression that all the memory of Victory Day has been stolen and destroyed” by the offensive in Ukraine, insists the young woman.


In the streets, families are out. “Artiom, come here!” calls a man in the direction of a little boy.

Military green bomber jacket on the back, the child pretends to shoot at the crowd with a big black plastic gun.

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“Look, these are the (surface-to-air missiles) S300 and S400, they are used in Ukraine at the moment”, explains a man to his partner in the crowd. “These are the most powerful weapons we have,” adds a father for his son perched on his shoulders.

The symbols of the Soviet empire are displayed, such as this slogan on the square of the Bolshoi theater “USSR – Victory” adorned with a replica ten meters high of a Soviet medal awarded after 1945.

But we also find those of the offensive in Ukraine. “Z” are displayed on the chests of onlookers, flags, windshields and the uniforms of law enforcement.

The letter has become an emblem, adorning many vehicles of the Russian armed forces deployed on the front.

During rehearsals for the parade, fighter jets flew over Moscow in a “Z” shape, but the flyby was canceled on Monday due to bad weather.


In an underpass, Viktoria closes her cafe for the parade. The 30-year-old finds that this year “it’s a little strange” to celebrate Victory.

“I avoid reading the news, but what I am all the same are the soldiers who died in Ukraine who are buried in the Russian regions,” said the young woman from Kalmoukia, in the South-West of France, shyly. Russia.

And then, she fears the economic consequences of the sanctions hitting Russia: “we are all afraid of the future. There have been deaths from COVID, will there be deaths from starvation?”

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