Igor Boțan: A symbol of victory must be distinguished from a symbol of military aggression

The Moldovan authorities are justified in banning the black-and-orange St. George’s ribbon, thinks political pundit Igor Boțan, noting that it has morphed from a symbol of victory in the WWII into a symbol of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine.

“When we see the St. George’s ribbon on May 9, what emotions will this symbol evoke in our hearts - the victory in World War II or the tragic events that are now happening in Ukraine? That is the purpose of the authorities’ decision. I also agree with the decision to declare a day of national mourning to commemorate the victims of the atrocities”, said Boțan during an IPN debate on Monday.

The expert noted that the swastika, once a benign symbol, had a similar fate. “The Red Army used to display the swastika as a positive element. It was also displayed on the money issued by the Bolshevik authorities. When the swastika became a symbol of Nazism, it was decided that the symbol should be banned. Now, if the Russian soldier, who by the UN Resolution is an aggressor, uses the St. George Ribbon, we have a situation similar to the one we had regarding the swastika”.

For Igor Boțan, the decision to declare a day of national mourning for the victims of Russia’s war in Ukraine is very clear. He recalled that in 2008, when Russia attacked Georgia, Moldova did the same. Then the Moldovan authorities made a statement emphasizing that they associate themselves with the point of view of the European Union. In this regard, Igor Botan criticizes the actions of the Russian Federation which “circumvent the provisions of its own legislation and dehumanize the enemy”.

“There are many testimonies, as was the case in Bucha. There is satellite footage showing that dead bodies had been on the streets since mid-March, which the Russian Federation denies. At the same time, the UN Resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine states very clearly that the Russian Federation has committed unprovoked aggression. Therefore, it pursues a goal that it camouflages using other notions, although it is clear that this is a war and not a ‘special operation’. This is done, first of all, to circumvent the provisions of the Russian Criminal Code, but also to assign to the enemy traits that dehumanize him and subsequently the whole propaganda arsenal is used to stigmatize him. From this point of view, I believe that the authorities of the Republic of Moldova are doing the right thing”, said Igor Botan.

The expert also expressed his opinion on the war crimes committed by the Russian Army in Ukraine, stating that “young people with a psyche poisoned by Russian propaganda came to military exercises, but were involved in a war.”

“The official press in Russia says that Ukraine must be destroyed, that Ukrainians are Nazis or fascists, and so on. So, here we have a man in his early 20s who finds himself in an absolutely unclear situation, but who, in order to survive or, at least, to get something out of it, commits acts of robbery. If taking something that isn’t yours is not a military necessity, it qualifies as a war crime. And we saw that these soldiers sent robbed goods from Ukraine to their own homeland. We see a regular army committing serious war crimes. Now, of course, we can wait for the investigation to take place and for all of this to be legally proven so that all of this can be confirmed. Still, the things everyone can see are absolutely shocking”, the expert concluded.

The debate on “The atrocities in Ukraine’s occupied territories” was the 236th installment of the “Political Culture” Series, run by IPN with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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