Gyumri, Armenia's second-largest city, is preparing for events dedicated to the 69th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War with unusual solemnity this year: a joint military parade of Armenian and Russian troops will be held in the city's main square — something that never happened in previous years, chair of the Gyumri-based Asparez Journalists' Club, Levon Barseghyan, told Epress.am.
For several days now, preparations for the festival, Barseghyan said, have caused inconvenience to the city's residents. In particular, the city hall is located in the center of Gyumri and to get there, residents have to go more than 700–800 meters by foot.
"They close the square and surrounding streets because armored vehicles pass there, and Armenian and Russian troops are standing there. While on Shahumyan Street, near the market, military vehicles, armored cars, trucks, and artillery are stationed there. Rehearsals are held several times a day," he said.
Barseghyan compared the preparations for Victory Day in Gyumri to the November 7, 1941 parade organized by Stalin held in Moscow's Red Square. "The difference is they went straight to the front from that parade, while this is simply a show of force. Military parades are a show of force of totalitarian systems, and this is nothing new. What's deplorable is that the rehearsals are held in Russian, and I don't know whether the parade itself will be held in Russian or not, but the Armenian Colonel, the Armenian General managing the parade speak in Russian and the orders are given in Russian, which is a shame," he said.
Thus, Barseghyan said, the Russian government protects its state interests: "It's more so a matter of unprofessional Armenian authorities."
"We should've come up with alternatives a long time ago, and a state event, even a parade, should not be allowed to be held in a foreign language. The Russian troops participating in the parade could've been taught those few orders in Armenian or provided earphones, to hear simultaneous translations — there's nothing terrible in that," he said.
The fact that Shushi Liberation Day (May 8) was not mentioned during the military parade rehearsals also drew Barseghyan's attention.
"I don't know whether it will appear or be touched upon during the course of the celebration or not, but it definitely wasn't in the rehearsal. Basically, it turned out that this parade obscures the victory in Shushi. It would be nice if the liberation of Shushi was also mentioned in the celebration marked on May 9," he concluded.
Photo credit: Asparez Journalists' Club