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House on the Embankment

Moscow, Russia

Veterans Serie

09   /   05   /   2011

Artist: Evgeny Ivanov 

The Soviet Union, which strove to create a communist society, collapsed in less than 70 years, leaving nothing positive for the world. The Russian state is now seeking to start on the old debris a national narrative acceptable for all social strata, a narrative drawing on the Russian engagement in World War II. The former Soviet, and now Russian rulers are laying claim to the Victory, on their own behalf and in the name of the country and the people. The hysteria started in the 80s under Brezhnev when the soldiers were mythicized. To commemorate the fallen, whose number was estimated to be over 20 million, memorials and monuments were raised and praised as works of art. Those who survived were allotted important economic privileges to form an elite devoted to the rulers. The truth about the horrors of war, the losses and the price paid for the victory was hushed up.

Times have changed since then. The authorities cannot grant any noteworthy privileges; still, they are trying to play that card in the political game without realising that it is impossible to build a positive agenda for a new society on the mortal remains of ten million people who died in World War II. Most of the veterans, once so much petted by the Soviet government, today live under the poverty line, trying to keep their attitudes and everyday life in a modern, rapidly changing environment. They feed on the memories, the ideas and material values of the bygone days – the pinnacle of their lives – that saw these people drawn into the global catastrophe.

Today, most of them are over 80; yet they remember up to now the events they witnessed 60 years ago when those young, hardly matured people were caught by the world’s worst catastrophe of the twentieth century. It is important for them not to lose their spiritual and material values in this so much different and hasty life.