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You're reading: The V-Day spectacle and beyond

The “theatrical” metaphors should not undermine the seriousness of the conflict and its consequences for Ukraine’s future. Rather, they signal the staged, prefabricated character of the event, pointing to its Kyiv directors and, arguably, Moscow architects.

The stage for the conflict was set on April 21 when the Ukrainian parliament amended the 2000 law on commemoration of victory in the so-called “Great Patriotic War” of 1941-1945. A politically crucial request was added to raise the red Soviet flag (euphemistically defined as the “Flag of the Victory”) on all official buildings and sites, and to use it at all official ceremonies on V-Day and at relevant events, alongside the national yellow-and-blue flag.

Neither Ukrainian MPs nor the president needed to have been great statesmen to understand the provocative and subversive character of this suggestion. Even if they watched only Russian TV and used no other sources of information, they would certainly have known that the Soviet flag is absolutely unacceptable for a significant portion of the Ukrainian population, primarily in the western but also in the central part of the country. They should certainly have known that for millions of Ukrainians the red flag is first and foremost the symbol of occupation, of terror and genocide, Gulag and Holodomor, Russification, and national humiliation.

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