June 12, 2016 –
Alexander Chausov, PolitRussia –
Translated by J. Arnoldski
Russia Day is perhaps one of the most contradictory and ambiguous dates in our country. If, for example, National Unity Day has a positive, albeit distant point, then June 12th is not so clear. The declaration of Russia’s independence was perceived by the majority of citizens of the then Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic not only as a tragedy, but also as an act of betrayal as a result of which 25 million people were suddenly deprived of their Homeland. And now, Russians are still the largest divided people in history.
In the new Russia that celebrated “independence,” chaos and degradation, and the literal extinction of the population reigned. The question became all the more urgent: from what has our country become independent? From honor, conscience, and common sense? It is clear that the post-Soviet authorities had to celebrate a certain milestone, change of times, or date of great transition. So the Day of Russia’s Independence became a holiday from the “top-down.” It remained such to this or that extent for subsequent years.
In 2002, the first important change took place. Independence Day was renamed Russia Day. This “independence” had become far too suspicious for the people. For a long time already, there had been no meaning to this June 12th, a day made into a date supposed to be celebrated as a holiday by everybody. It would seem that the title is clear: Russia Day is a day on which one needs to be “especially proud of their country.” But for a long time, starting with the ’90’s up to the middle of the first decade of the 2000’s, there were no causes for such pride. If something appeared in the media, then it was instantly trampled and soiled by the Westernizers. Only recently have they stopped, finally and irrevocably, to be “teachers of the people” and “the nation’s conscience.”
What is Russia Day? In theory, it should be a Rubicon date, not one of the dismantlement and collapse of the country, but of its rebirth “in strength and glory” – the day when all of us can clearly articulate that we are proud of our country, and especially why we are proud. Fortunately, in recent years there have been more causes for pride. “Yuri, we’ve corrected it.”
This doesn’t mean that Russia Day has become a general holiday for everyone. The memory of the shame of the 1990’s is still fresh. But in recent years, we can see that there is a different semantic content. And most importantly, it is coming from the people, and now “top-down” from our state officialdom.
The fully charged meaning of Russia Day will only reveal itself in the future, which turns it into a “date for the future.” But this entirely depends on us, the citizens of Russia. The more real reasons for pride there are, the more achievements and breakthroughs there will be, and the more festive and celebrated will be the date of June 12th.
Proposals have been voiced that Russia Day should be change to a different date, one not associated with the painful memories of June 12th. But such a move will be perceived as done by those who want Russians to repent for their past, as a concession. In regards to May 9th, our liberal public also says that it is not a holiday, but a day of mourning for four years of bloody war and millions of deaths. But we aren’t even thinking about changing Victory Day to another date. Don’t Russians already know that this was a bloody war with millions of death? We more than understand this. That war affected almost ever family, and the millions-strong Immortal Regiment is proof of this. But on May 9th, the war ended, so we celebrate triumph and remember the blood, pain, and broken families.
The same should be considered in regards to Russia Day. As Independence Day, it heralded an era of collapse and destruction which lasted 10 long and terrible years with millions dead from famine, banditry, and hopelessness. This is also a memory which should never be abandoned, whose mistakes should never be repeated, whose memory should prevent any forces from allowing another collapse of the country. This is a very important memory.
But Russia Day, in addition to this bitter meaning, should be imbued with another meaning – with the idea of rebirth with all of Russia’s former greatness. And this is happening before our very eyes.
By way of its symbolism, Russia Day can become quite a Christian one just as how the Cross of Christ, the shameful instrument of the most shameful form of execution in the Roman Empire, became a symbol of Honor and Resurrection. So can Russia Day, out of shame and defeat, become a day of pride and victory in the most paradoxical, unimaginable and wonderful way.
But, after all, in Russia, astonishment is a kind of routine. Our ancestors performed miracles in 1941-1945 and earlier, throughout the entire history of our country.
We are their descendants. Our genetics are predisposed to making “ordinary miracles” when life itself demands such.
This is why there is the opinion that such a miracle is gradually, year by year, happening now and will finally happen with Russia Day. This day will no longer be a reminder of the “shameful cross,” but a symbol of striving for Life and Eternity for our entire Homeland.
Such an understanding of the holiday has only just begun to find meaningful contours, and their appearance in the future depends on us alone – on the quiet, modest heroism of each of us. Every day, and not only on June 12th.