Russia’s Victory Day Parade – A Brief History

The Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin, have been in the headlines recently due to the preparations the country is making for its Victory Parade. Russia’s Victory Parade is celebrated every 9th of May to commemorate the day that the Soviet Union, along with the other Allied powers, defeated Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime during the Second World War in what is known to Russians as Victory Day.


The history of this military parade in Moscow is fascinating. Interestingly enough, the Victory Parade has not consistently been celebrated in the Soviet Union – and later Russia – since the conclusion of the Second World War.


When Nikita Khrushchev took over as Premier of the Soviet Union in 1953, he did not want to be associated with the memory of the Second World War. Khrushchev felt it was too close in association to Joseph Stalin – the infamous Soviet leader who is responsible for tragedies such as the purging of the Russian military, collectivization of the food supply and the resulting mass famines that occurred. As a result, Russia did not have Victory Parades until Khrushchev was forced out of power and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev in 1964.


After 1964, the Victory Day parade was a consistent celebration in the Soviet Union until its collapse on Christmas Day of 1991.The collapse of the Soviet Union and the leadership of a different regime in Russia led to a “revolution in rituals and symbols.” Although Victory Day was still considered a national holiday, there was no Victory Parade as we will be seeing tomorrow.


The destruction of the Soviet Union seemed to have an impact on the patriotism that Russians felt about cultural holidays, such as Victory Day. A poll conducted in 2000 suggested that 48 percent of Russians celebrated Victory Day, a holiday that was once of vital importance during the rule of the Soviet Union.


It should be of no surprise that Putin’s regime has brought back the Victory Parade in full force while also raising patriotism within his country. Putin, a former KGB officer, has been widely criticized by Western observers for the aggressive actions he has taken during his presidency. Actions such as the invasion of Georgia – a former Soviet republic – and the invasion of Crimea in 2014.


Observers note that Putin is attempting to make Russia the great power it once was under the Soviet regime. The Victory Parade is of great importance to him in order to show the Russian people and those in the West that Moscow is making strides to regain the military dominance his country once had during the Cold War. To do that, the Russian military will show off its tanks, armored vehicles and most importantly, its nuclear missiles in order to show that Russia is indeed a powerful state with dangerous military capabilities.


Putin’s effect on his country’s patriotism was felt fairly quickly throughout Russia. A similar poll to the one conducted in 2000 was done in 2004. The results of the poll showed that 72 percent of Russians consider Victory Day to be an important holiday to them. More recently, 76 percent of Russians said that they will be celebrating the holiday tomorrow.


Observers in the West will be closely observing the Victory Parade to see what new weapon technology Putin will be showing off as a display of strength to the West. Tension between Russia and the West has been high due to the suspected role that Russia may have played in the Ukrainian War, as well as the annexing of Crimea in March of 2014.

Daniel Alonso is the founder and contributor of Politicsay. Daniel graduated from Florida International University with a double major in Political Science and International Relations, as well as a certificate in National Security Studies. Daniel focuses on American Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and Human Rights Issues.

Daniel Alonso