Russia has decided to cancel the patriotic Immortal Regiment marches to celebrate May 9, which the regime has hitched to its propaganda wagon, for this year. Authorities have also said that traditional Victory Day military parades will not take place in several major cities.
"The procession format will not be used this time. It was decided to expand the traditional format in a way to celebrate the memory of heroes throughout the day," said Olga Baibulova, spokesperson for the organization behind the marches.
She said that the organizers decided to expand the "one street, one square" format this year. The report by the Interfax news agency does not go into any further detail.
The Immortal Regiment ("Бессмертный полк" in Russian) is a state-sponsored propaganda initiative held on Victory Day (May 9) to commemorate the Russian generation that took part in the Great Patriotic War. Participants march carrying placards with photos of soldiers who died in WWII who are believed to be relatives.
The tradition got started in the Siberian city of Tomsk in 2011 when local journalist Igor Dmitriev got the idea to carry the portraits of his forbears who participated in the Great Patriotic War during the May 9 victory parade. From there, it soon spread to other cities, including to Moscow in 2013. The entire movement was subjected to the Kremlin's control in 2014 and has largely become a demonstration of loyalty to the authorities since then participation in which is at times only half-voluntary.
The marches were canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic but went ahead in 2022.
The heads of at least two Russian major cities and oblasts near the Ukrainian border have said that Victory Day parades will not be held this year. According to Newsweek, local authorities of Kursk and Belgorod Oblast have communicated as much. The publication gives security concerns as the reason, as well as shortage of military equipment to use for parades. The parade will also be canceled in occupied Crimea.
Editor: Marcus Turovski