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In New TV Spots, Ukraine Accuses Russia Of 'Misappropriating' Victory Day

  • RFE/RL

A rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Yekaterinburg.

A rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Yekaterinburg.

With Russia pushing hard to monopolize the remembrance of the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, activists in Ukraine have decided to push back.

The Information Resistance group, with assistance from the Ukrainian military and the National Military History Museum, has produced two emotionally charged public-service advertisements that emphasize Ukraine's tremendous sacrifices and contributions to victory in 1945.

The Kremlin considers the current government of Ukraine to be fascists that revere controversial World War II-era Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who Moscow views as a Nazi collaborator.

"The dialogues [in the advertisements] show better than any political rhetoric the true feelings of the 'modern Banderites,' as Russian propaganda calls us, regarding the memory of our grandfathers who fought and stopped fascism," Ukrainian lawmaker and Information Resistance activist Dmytro Tymchuk told Euromaidan Press.

At the same time, the pieces draw a straight line between the heroism and patriotism of the World War II period and the sacrifices currently being made to combat Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

They boldly assert that, contrary to the claims of many Russians, Ukraine has every right to be proud of its wartime record. They also portray that pride as the foundation of the national rebirth Ukraine has experienced since the Euromaidan protests began in November 2013.

In one advertisement, a soldier takes time to telephone his medal-bedecked grandfather to congratulate him on the occasion of Victory Day moments before he straps on his helmet and goes into combat himself -- carrying his grandfather's Soviet Order of the Red Star as a good-luck talisman.

"We remember. We are proud. We will prevail," runs the voiceover at the end as the dates 1945-2015 appear on the screen.

Both ads open with a text that accuses Russia of seeking to "misappropriate Victory Day" and that reminds viewers that Ukraine lost 8 million people in the war, that 2,021 Heroes of the Soviet Union hailed from Ukraine, and that 10 of the Soviet Union's 41 marshals were born there.

The second advertisement parallels the first. A young woman calls to congratulate her grandmother, who is seen leafing through an album of photos of her service as a wartime nurse.

"I'm proud of you," the young woman says. "And I'm proud of you," the grandmother responds as the young woman, herself a nurse, abruptly puts the phone down and rushes to aid a wounded soldier.

"We remember. We are proud. We will prevail."