Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the public events ban, the large-scale celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War are not planned this year in Central Asian countries (except Turkmenistan). Celebrations and parades will be held in a new format: as non-contact as possible.
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In Kazakhstan, the military parade honoring the 75th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War was cancelled in March. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev decided to ban the public events due to the threat of the coronavirus’s spread.
So far, there were no reports on possibility of the parade after the emergency ends. Nevertheless, on May 9, it will be held: not traditionally, but online. The initiator of the first online parade in the country’s history was the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan.
Communist People’s Party launched the website 1945.kz, which is already being called a virtual or electronic memorial. The Communists called on compatriots to publish the stories of their relatives, neighbors, teachers, mentors, war heroes and children, homefront workers – those who won the Great Patriotic War together. On May 9, all stories will appear at the online parade.
On this day, several Immortal Regiment processions will also take place in Kazakhstan. From 10 AM to 8 PM Nur-Sultan time, the Online Immortal Regiment will be held on the Tengrinews.kz and Massaget.kz websites and on Aitube.kz video platform.
According to the organizers, the portraits of veterans and congratulations will be broadcast online from the Eternal Flame in the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen (Almaty). To participate in the event, it is necessary to submit the photos of the heroes and videos with congratulations.
On Victory Day, the Online Immortal Regiment will also be held in regions. Ekaraganda.kz news agency organizes a procession for Karaganda residents. Instead of literally walking in the Regiment with the portraits of their heroes, participants will be able to add the portraits through the application form on the website by uploading photographs of relatives and their stories. The Immortal Regiment will march virtually.
The programs of events published on the state agencies’ websites emphasize that they will be held online only. These are concerts, performances, exhibitions, events, hashtags, contests, etc.
Nevertheless, such event cannot be held online only. For example, it is planned to express respect to the war heroes during the citywide campaign “Victory Lights” in Aktobe. On the eve of May 9, at 10 PM, the lights will be turned off for 5 minutes and lanterns will be lit at the windows and balconies. A similar event will simultaneously take place in Nur-Sultan. It is called “Eternal Flame” here and is supplemented by a flashmob: the performance of military songs from the balconies.
The residents of other cities will probably also sing all together from the balconies at noon on May 9. There was a proposal on social networks to hold a musical flashmob across the country: to sing or to play the popular song “Victory Day” regardless of location.
The heroes, of course, will be congratulated in person. At a press conference on the eve of May 9, Yerlan Aukenov, vice minister of labor and social protection of the population of the Republic of Kazakhstan, noted that, despite quarantine, akimats’ employees in every region would personally congratulate veterans. Veterans will be awarded with jubilee medals, congratulated on behalf of the Head of State and receive food baskets.
Among the regions, events in Taraz were the most creative. Two veterans living in high-rise buildings and able to move around were congratulated on their own balconies. The congratulators were lifted there on a skylift. They presented veterans with flowers and gifts, while volunteers and military orchestra performed the song “Victory Day” outside.
Personal concerts and parades for veterans under their windows in the backyards of the high-rise buildings have become a trend. The Guards arranged such celebrations for the veterans in Kostanay and Uralsk. In Shymkent, 6506th military unit organizes such mini-parades with the Immortal Regiment procession and the participation of a military orchestra since February.
On the 75th Victory Day anniversary, all Kazakh veterans received 1 million tenge ($ 2,382) as one-time financial assistance.
The Bishkek City Hall notes that there are no plans for postponing the celebration: everything will depend on the coronavirus situation. Bermet Kulbaeva, the press service specialist at the City Hall, emphasized that veterans, survivors of the Siege of Leningrad, prisoners of concentration camps and homefront workers would definitely be congratulated.
“We have planned personal congratulations of veterans. We strive to make it non-contact, since the elderly are at the risk group of COVID-19 infection. The firework will go off at 10 PM, it will be organized by the General Staff of the Armed Forces,” says Kulbaeva.
Personal congratulations of veterans will be held throughout Kyrgyzstan. At the government’s initiative, jubilee medals depicting the dates “1945-2020”, a laurel wreath, eternal flame and a mother holding a prize were made as a gift.
In addition, from April 22, one-time financial assistance in amount of 75 thousand soms ($ 951) was paid to people with disabilities, participants of the Great Patriotic War, survivors of the Siege of Leningrad, and prisoners of concentration camps. The homefront workers, Labour Army members and the families of killed soldiers received 15 thousand soms ($ 190).
Volunteer organizations traditionally will pay visits to veterans. However, the leaders of most of them note that it is difficult to raise funds this year.
Maria Orlova, activist of the “Veterans 365” Bishkek community, emphasized on her Facebook page that they have raised 217 soms ($ 2.75) per veteran. The volunteers’ list includes 210 addresses throughout Bishkek. They planned to raise at least 250 thousand soms ($ 3,170), but this became impossible due to quarantine.
On Immortal Regiment Processions
However, the public events ban due to the epidemiological situation did not become an obstacle for the Immortal Regiment campaign. The organizers of the traditional procession offered everyone to “march online”.
At noon on May 9, participants of the Immortal Regiment in all cities of Kyrgyzstan will put up a portrait of a veteran in the window and light a candle. Those who wish can sing the song “Victory Day”.
In addition, the organizers of the campaign are calling to join other activities related to the Immortal Regiment. Kyrgyz people publish frontline stories with photos on social networks, and tag them with special hashtags: #immortalregimentathome, #immortalregiment2020 and #myregimentathome.
According to the campaign coordinator Alena Smirnova, the hashtags will help joining the international Immortal Regiment on the moypolk.ru website.
“There will be online updates on May 9; there is a chance that stories from Kyrgyzstan will appear on this resource,” Smirnova says.
In addition, this year, the Registration Service of Kyrgyzstan launched the website with the electronic archive of the Great Patriotic War. It contains wartime photographs of the activities of partisans during the war and other photographs of the Red Army and war participants from the Kyrgyz SSR. In addition, the website has an electronic databank of killed and missing soldiers during the war.
This year, Tajikistan, just as other countries, restricted public events on Victory Day. The reason for this is coronavirus pandemic. However, the state authorities and the Chairmen of regions and districts provided financial assistance to the participants of the Great Patriotic War.
Rahmat Kudratov, Chairman of the Council of War and Labor Veterans of Tajikistan, told CABAR.asia that due to the coronavirus spread and high risk of infection among veterans, Victory Day would not be celebrated this year.
On May 4, Kudratov reported that almost a week had passed since the day they were released from work to stay at homes, because they are at risk.
The press secretary of the Chairman of the Khatlon region of Tajikistan Nosirjon Mamurzoda told CABAR.asia that the organization and holding of large-scale events is not planned under the current conditions.
“Perhaps a wreath laying ceremony will take place with a limited number of participants,” he said.
Meanwhile, on April 25, 2020, the Republican headquarters for countering the spread of coronavirus infection headed by Tajik Prime Minister Kohir Rasulzoda issued a decree on a temporary ban on organizing and holding public events, such as parades, sports events, theater performances and film screenings throughout the country.
In addition, the mayor of Dushanbe Rustami Emomali decided to ban the holding of any public events in the capital. The Department of Information and External Relations of Dushanbe City Hall emphasized that the capital’s administration made this decision to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health of residents and guests of the capital.
“Considering the current situation, during this day (the Capital’s Day – ed.) it is forbidden to hold public and other events in the capital this year,” the decision states.
The Authorities Assisted Veterans of the Great Patriotic War
The authorities claimed that financial assistance would be provided to the participants of the Great Patriotic War and homefront workers.
Alisher Sharipov, deputy Chairman of the Council of War and Labor Veterans of Tajikistan, said that each veteran of the Great Patriotic War was awarded 6 thousand somoni (about $ 600) on behalf of President Emomali Rahmon.
He added that more than 1 million somoni (about $ 100 thousand) were allocated from the Presidential Reserve Fund for 175 veterans of Great Patriotic War for the 75th Victory Day anniversary.
In this regard, the mayor of Dushanbe Rustam Emomali also signed a decree on the allocation of 1.5 thousand somoni (about $ 150) for 46 veterans living in the capital. Homefront workers, participants in the Afghanistan war and participants in liquidation of the Chernobyl accident consequences received 800 somoni each (about $ 80).
In addition, by the decision of the Chairman of the Sughd Region Rajabboy Ahmadzoda, the veterans of the Great Patriotic War received one-time financial assistance of 740 thousand somoni (about $ 74 thousand). Participants and disabled veterans of the Great Patriotic War, as well as the families of killed soldiers, received assistance of 4 thousand somoni (about $ 400).
Funds in the amount of 2 thousand somoni (about $ 200) were allocated for those who served in the army during the Great Patriotic War, worked for at least six months at the homefront and those who received one of the medals “For the Victory Over Germany in the Great Patriotic War”, “For the Victory over Japan” or “For Valiant Labor in the Great Patriotic War”.
Thus, 192 thousand somoni (about $ 19.2 thousand) were allocated for 46 participants and disabled veterans of the Great Patriotic War and wives of two soldiers killed in this war. 546 thousand somoni (about $ 54.6 thousand) were allocated for 273 homefront workers and medals’ recipients.
Nosirjon Mamurzoda said that one-time financial assistance was also provided to veterans from Khatlon. By decision of the Chairman of the region, each participant and disabled veteran of the Great Patriotic War received one-time financial assistance of 2.5 thousand somoni (about $ 250).
He added that 145.5 thousand somoni (about $ 14.5 thousand) were allocated for 57 veterans of the Great Patriotic War living in the Khatlon region.
Golib Niyatbekov, Head of the Information and Analytical Department of the GBAO administration, said that the Chairman of GBAO allocated one thousand somoni (about $ 100) for each of the two veterans of the Great Patriotic War, and 500 somoni (about $ 50) for each of the six homefront workers.
In addition, Chairmen of the cities and districts also assisted veterans. In particular, the press service of the Chairman of the Hamadoni district reports that 500 somoni (about $ 50) were allocated to each of the four participants of the Great Patriotic War on behalf of the Chairman.
Each participant of the Great Patriotic War in Buston and Isfara received one-time financial assistance of 2 thousand somoni (about $ 200) on behalf of the chairmen of these cities.
The Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Veterans” states that it is necessary to create conditions for veterans’ decent living and active participation in various spheres of society and the state.
The Article 6 of this Law provides for “reduction of (exemption from) payments for public utility services”: water supply, wastewater disposal services, waste disposal, gas supply, heat and electricity;
– “reduction of (exemption from) payments for communication services”: payment for telephone, radio, the right to use a common antenna;
– “reduction of (exemption from) accommodation payments”: payments for the total area of occupied housing.
In addition, Article 9 of this Law defines the duties and rights of state bodies, officials, enterprises, institutions, organizations and citizens regarding veterans.
The Youngest Veteran Is 96
Deputy Chairman of the Council of War and Labor Veterans of Tajikistan Alisher Sharipov stated that as of May 1, 2020, 175 veterans of the Great Patriotic War and 723 homefront workers live in Tajikistan.
Photo: press service of the head of Khatlon region
According to him, in May 2019, there were 242 veterans in Tajikistan, and at the beginning of this year – only 201.
“Unfortunately, every year we are losing dozens of our compatriots who participated in the war. Numbers change almost every day. The youngest veteran is 96, and the oldest one is 108,” added Alisher Sharipov.
Currently, 28 participants of the Great Patriotic War live in Dushanbe, 48 in the Sughd region, 63 in Khatlon region (of them, 42 in Bohtar and 21 in Kulob), 2 in GBAO and 34 in cities and regions of republican subordination.
According to the Council of War and Labor Veterans of Tajikistan, 300,000 people participated in the Great Patriotic War out of 1.5 million population. 92,000 of them did not return back, and 10,000 became disabled.
This country is the only one in the region where a military parade is planned for May 9. The state media did not officially report this, but on April 30, a semi-official Turkmen media Orient.tm published informational message in this regard.
In this publication, the media once again reminded about the proposal of the Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to hold celebrations of the 75th Victory Day in all the capitals of the CIS countries. He proposed it at the CIS summit in Ashgabat in October 2019.
Due to quarantine during the period of COVID-19 spread, all CIS republics, including Russia, canceled the plans of holding special events, except Belarus and Turkmenistan.
In the last few days, state-owned media in Turkmenistan are covering the celebrations and congratulations of the Great Patriotic War veterans, their families and home front workers by authorities in the capital and regions. At a ceremony in Ashgabat, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan Ata Serdarov congratulated the veterans.
“In previous years, veterans were awarded with 200 manats on Victory Day. This time, according to the TV reports, it was decided to award them with medals and gift boxes, the contents of which are not shown,” notes the independent media Chronicles of Turkmenistan.
In Uzbekistan, there will be no public events for the Victory Day, reports the special republican commission for countering the coronavirus spread. However, according to the Presidential decree of March 30, 2020, veterans of the Great Patriotic War will be solemnly awarded 10 million soms ($ 1,000).
Congratulations and awards are planned for May 9. The opening ceremony of a new park in Tashkent to celebrate the Victory Day is planned for the same date.
As of March 2020, there are 529 veterans in the country.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project.