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Ukraine Turns To Poppies In Rebuke Of Russian WWII 'Myth'

  • RFE/RL

Ukraine's new symbol of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Ukraine's new symbol of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Ukraine is making the crimson poppy flower a symbol of the victory over Nazi Germany, part of a shift away from Soviet imagery Kyiv says the Kremlin is using to influence neighbors and promote self-serving myths about World War II amid a conflict in eastern Ukraine.

First Lady Maryna Poroshenko attended a "Remembrance Poppy" ceremony on April 7 as part of events marking the 70th anniversary of the Nazi surrender in May 1945.

"The time has come when we have to look for the ideas that unite our country and nation," she said, according to a statement on the presidential website.

Russian celebrations of the World War II victory as the product of unity among Soviet republics are ringing wrong to many in Ukraine because of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces in a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people.

The head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, Volodymyr Vyatrovych, said that Soviet-era commemorations of the Allied victory had turned the "dreadful tragedy" of World War II into a celebration of the "triumph of communist ideas" and created a "cult of war."

"Last year, we saw that the myth about the Patriotic War, the Soviet War, had become not only an instrument of propaganda but also an instrument of war against Ukraine," he said, according to the website.