Russia stages military-style propaganda parade on Norway's Svalbard archipelago
With the diplomatic car of Russian general consul Andrei Chemerilo in front, the 9th May parade moved through the small Arctic town that is inhabited mainly by Russian and Ukrainian citizens.
In the air was a Mi8 helicopter and behind Chemerilo’s black Toyota Landcruiser followed a line of more than 50 vehicles, including trucks, tractors and snow mobiles.
At least ten of the snow mobiles were driven by men in green suits, resembling military uniforms.
It looked like Russia, where the 9th of May is celebrated as a main national day and commemoration of the victory in second world war. But this is Norway, several thousand kilometres away from the Russian mainland.
All vehicles had printed photos of Soviet 2WW veterans taped to the windows. Until this year, Russian 9th May parades included so-called “immortal regiments” (bessmertnye polki). However, following the massive losses of men in the war against Ukraine, Russian authorities demanded that the photos instead be attached to vehicles and not as earlier carried by participants in the parades.
Many of the parading vehicles belong to Arktikugol, the Russian state mining company that runs most of the local economy. Photos from parade are shared by Arktikugol and its leader Ildar Neverov, as well as by the Russian federal Ministry of the Far East and Arctic. Also several local participants in the parade have shared footage from the parade.
It is not the first the first time that General Consul Chemerilo heats up the atmosphere in the Norwegian archipelago. On the 31st of July 2022, the Russian Navy Day, the Russian state official organised a symbolic naval parade in the waters adjacent to the local port. It included a few small vessels carrying military flags.
According to the Ministry of Far East and Arctic, there was a Russian parade also in the town of Pyramiden, the abandoned mining town in the archipelago. Attending the parades were “local inhabitant and international guests,” the ministry informs.
The Russian celebrations in Barentsburg included also a patriotic propaganda concert with participants dressed in military uniforms and carrying the St.George ribbon, the symbol of Russian war aggression extensively used in various patriotic events.