Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, recently proposed to break the Soviet tradition of celebrating Victory Day on May 9th by shifting it to May 8th instead. This move is being slammed by officials in Moscow, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova branding Zelensky a “traitor” and the “new incarnation of Judas in the 21st century.”
Zelensky’s proposal was based on the fact that it was “on May 8th that most nations of the world remember the greatness of the victory over the Nazis.” He added that the German Third Reich’s unconditional surrender was signed on that day. The Ukrainian President also compared modern-day Russia to Nazi Germany, saying it represented a “similar evil” and insisted Ukraine would prevail in its conflict against Moscow in the end.
While the proposed bill may be adopted quickly by lawmakers in the Verkhovna Rada, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov believes that May 9th will remain a sacred day for many Ukrainians no matter what.
The move to shift Victory Day is significant because it not only breaks with the Soviet tradition but also aligns Ukraine with Europe. By designating May 8th as the ‘Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in the Second World War of 1939-1945’ and observing May 9th as Europe Day, Zelensky hopes to return to “honest history without ideological admixtures to our state.”
It is also likely to further strain relations between Ukraine and Russia, which have been tense since the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Moscow and the ongoing hostilities of Russia’s special military operation. It remains to be seen how the proposed bill will be taken by the people of Ukraine.
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