Conspicuous absence from D-Day events seals Russia’s pariah status

Russia

As countries come together this week to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Russia – the country proud of playing a key role in the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany – will be absent.

No Russian official representing Vladimir Putin’s government has been invited to the Elyse Palace because of the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine, now in its third year. Representatives of the anti-Kremlin opposition and civil society will also not attend.

French President Emmanuel Macron will receive US President Joe Biden, British King Charles III and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the coast of Normandy, representing the three main countries involved in the June 6, 1944 landings.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and about 200 surviving war veterans are also expected to attend.

During World War II, the Soviet Union, in which Russia was the largest of fifteen republics, allied with Britain and the United States against Nazi Germany. The USSR bore the brunt of the battles until the Allies opened a second front on D-Day and suffered the largest number of casualties in the war, with more than 20 million dead.

While some Russian dissidents agreed that Moscow officials should not attend, they said Russians should not be completely excluded from the hugely symbolic celebrations.

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Flags of the US and France fly over the Utah Beach Monument during the “International March for Peace” event in Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont, Utah Beach in Normandy, northwestern France, as part of the D-Day commemorations

“It is not okay that representatives of Russia, which has sacrificed millions in this war, will not be there,” veteran rights activist Lev Ponomarev, co-founder of the Nobel Prize-winning Memorial group, told AFP.

“I believe the opposition could and should have been there,” said Ponomarev, 82, who lives in France after fleeing threats of arrest in Russia.

“We are representatives of Russia that defeated Hitlerism, if only because we stood up against Putin’s fascism,” he said.

Olga Prokopieva, head of the Paris-based association Russie-Libertes for anti-Putin exiles, made a similar comment, saying it was important that Russia was represented at the D-Day ceremonies.

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Veterans rights activist Lev Ponomarev has expressed regret that Russia will not be represented at D-Day commemorations in France Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

“Russia’s absence will be used by Russian propaganda, this will be shown as a humiliation of the Russian people.”

In April, organizers said Russian officials – but not Putin – would be invited to the Normandy ceremonies, sparking protests from Ukrainians.

The Russie-Libertes Association sent a letter to Macron’s aides, suggesting that France instead extend an invitation to members of Russia’s embattled opposition and civil society, such as Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny’s widow vowed to continue his cause, and Evgenia Kara. -Murza, wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a campaigner imprisoned in Russia for his opposition to the war.

However, last week the French presidency said that no Russian delegation would be present at the ceremonies, “given the war of aggression that Russia is waging against Ukraine and which has intensified in recent weeks.”

After France changed course on Russia, Canada’s Trudeau said he believed all countries involved in the Second World War should be recognized, despite “our extreme disagreement” with the Kremlin.

Paris said the USSR’s “decisive contribution” during World War II will be noted during the ceremony on Omaha Beach and during events at cemeteries containing the remains of Soviet soldiers.

Macron also hosted Navalnaya for a meeting at the Elysee Palace this weekend.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there had been no discussion about the presence of Russian officials. “We have not had any contact regarding this matter.”

Dmitry Muratov, who received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize and met Macron in Paris in April, said he personally does not care who attends celebrations and parades.

“They are hugely overrated,” he told AFP, adding that surviving World War II veterans were the main guests.

Muratov, co-founder of Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, said it was paramount to stop Moscow’s war against Ukraine and urged D-Day veterans to call for a ceasefire -the-fire “in memory of those who died for peace in the Second World War. .”

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Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov visits the grave of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow Olga MALTSEVA

“This would be very important for all of us,” he said.

“It is these people who can demand from Putin and from the world that the fighting stops.”

Historically, Operation Overlord has been a source of tension with the Kremlin, which insisted the Allies were taking too long to open a second front in Europe.

Putin alluded to the controversy during the Victory Day celebrations on May 9, saying that “during the first three long, difficult years of the Great Patriotic War” the Soviet Union fought Nazi Germany “almost one on one” .

Putin attended the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2004 with Jacques Chirac. He also attended the 70th anniversary commemoration events in 2014, despite Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

AFP


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