| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

Putin appeals to Russians’ patriotism on national day

President Vladimir Putin celebrated Russia’s National Day by highlighting the people’s patriotism during what he called a “difficult time” for the nation.

Putin did not directly address the most recent developments in Ukraine, where Kyiv’s forces have recently begun a long-awaited counteroffensive and have retaken a number of villages in the eastern Donetsk region. He was speaking at a grandiose award ceremony in the Kremlin.

“This public holiday marks the inseparability of our centuries-old history, the greatness and glory of the fatherland,” Putin told the assembled dignitaries.

“Today, at a difficult time for Russia, (feelings of patriotism and pride) unite our society even more strongly… (and) serve as a reliable support for our heroes taking part in the special military operation (in Ukraine),” Putin said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry released a video for Monday’s national day featuring scenes of Russian lakes, forests and Orthodox churches and icons, along with clips of soldiers expressing love for their country.

“I am Russian, thank the Lord, I am Russian, I am so lucky,” says one.

“Russia is like a fortress above the abysss, it has stood and will stand,” says another.

On this day in 1991, the Russian parliament formally declared Russian sovereignty from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was officially dissolved in December that year and the June 12 holiday was established in 1992.

Former president Dmitry Medvedev posted a mock-up picture on his Telegram channel of Russia’s white, blue and red tricolor flag flying over Kyiv’s central square, the Maidan, with a message saying it would soon be renamed “Russia Square”.

Oleg Osipov, an aide to Medvedev, who is now deputy head of Russia’s National Security Council, cited the former president as saying “Kyiv is our direct target. It is a Russian city and it will return home. We will not rest until we recover it. Happy holiday!”

  • Reuters