On the side of her grandfather, Nikolai, Lera Neliub admits that it is difficult to talk about the Russian invasion with this veteran of World War II.
Earlier in the day, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kyiv, Lera was holding him as he bent down to lay a wreath of flowers to honor the memory of his friends and comrades in the Soviet army who died fighting Nazi Germany.
“It is difficult for him to talk about this,” that is, about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the aim of “de-Naziizing” the country, Lera explained. “In the beginning, when he was watching the news on TV, he did not believe it.”
“It’s completely stupid what is happening. “Putin is rewriting history.”
Since 2015, a year after the first battles in Donbass against pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow, Ukraine has been celebrating “Remembrance and Reconciliation Day” on May 8, so that the celebrations do not coincide with those of Russia, which honors the end of the war on 9 May.
At the same time in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Russian army is fighting in Ukraine to “defend the homeland against the unacceptable threat” represented by the neighboring country. An argument that angered the people of Kiev who went to honor the dead of World War II.
Tetiana Levchenko said that “her hair stood on end” after listening to Putin’s speech. “We are not Nazis. This day is a celebration for me, a beautiful celebration. “It’s the victory over Nazi Germany,” said the 65-year-old, who did not hide her anger.
According to historians, 8-10 million Ukrainians, civilians and soldiers, were killed during World War II (1939-45).
For many months, Vladimir Putin has sought to link Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the events of World War II, calling the Kiev government “neo-Nazi.” But Sergi Mamouzin, a 46-year-old laborer whose grandfather was killed in World War II, has decided to ignore political strife and honor today, which he considers sacred. “Of course Victory Day is used by politicians, but for me it remains a celebration,” he said.
Next to him, some went to honor the soldiers who were killed after the invasion of February 24. Among them was Nina Minorova, a retired teacher who “wants to honor the soldiers who defend us.”
“I want this war to end so much because it has caused us so much pain,” he said.