This article examines the celebrations surrounding Victory Day in Russia. It situates the events of 9 May 2010 within the long-term processes of remembering the Great Patriotic War in Soviet and Russian society. The article analyzes various discussions that took place in Russia around the holiday, including the controversy over whether or not to display images of Stalin, the ongoing role veterans have played in the holiday, and its increasingly commercial aspects. While many commentators lamented the apparent turn from a sacred holiday to a commercial one, the author argues that Victory Day 2010 represents an important moment in how Russian remembrance has become less state-driven.
By making World War II a personal event and also a sacred one, Vladimir Putin has created a myth and a ritual that elevates him personally, uniting Russia (at least theoretically) and showing him as the natural hero-leader, the warrior who is personally associated with defending the Motherland. Several settings illustrate this personal performance of memory: Putin's meetings with veterans, his narration of his own family's sufferings in the Leningrad blockade, his visits to churches associated with the war, his participation in parades and the creation of new uniforms, and his creation of a girls' school that continues the military tradition. In each of these settings Putin demonstrates a connection to the war and to Russia's greatness as dutiful son meeting with his elders, as legitimate son of Leningrad, and as father to a new generation of girls associated with the military. Each setting helps to reinforce a masculine image of Putin as a ruler who is both autocrat and a man of the people.
This article examines the way in which "ordinary" Russians remember the era of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982). Using various concepts of post-communist nostalgia, it demonstrates that the period is exceptionally popular, but that this should not be construed as an unambiguous desire to revive the "Golden" 1970s. Positive evaluations of the Brezhnev era are often predicated on personal memories of one's youth, which shows that post-Soviet nostalgia is not a "common," but a generation-bound phenomenon. After attempting to explain Brezhnev's popularity in the 1990s and the Putin era, the article proceeds with a discussion of Novorossiisk, a city that claims to have a special bond with Brezhnev and decided to erect a statue of him in 2004. Detailing the controversy over the statue over a period of six years, the author demonstrates the existence of a locally defined Brezhnev "text" that allows the city's inhabitants to remember him as a great leader and a staunch defender of the fatherland, but also to appropriate him for their own political needs.
This article examines the everyday practices of historical reflection, recollection, and reconstruction as revealed in diaries of the Leningrad Blockade. In particular, it focuses on how Leningraders who chose to keep diaries of their experiences worked to make sense of the siege by situating it historically and comparing it to two other historical moments, the blockade of Petrograd during the Civil War and the siege of Sevastopol' during the Crimean War. Their evaluations of these historical analogies were based on a combination of personal and collective memories as well as on their understandings of state-sanctioned accounts of these events. Ultimately, these historical refl ections alerted the diarists to what they came to see as the unique and incomparable aspects of Blockade.