Facebook Twitter



Coverage of local D-Day events on B3.To many Russians, the absence of Soviet veterans at the ceremonies marking D-Day is another reminder of what they see as the West's reluctance to embrace the new Russia with much more than lofty words.

"The overall success of the Allies was due to the fact that the Soviet Union helped to accelerate the defeat of fascism," said Ivan Yershov, a 73-year-old retired colonel. "Now, the absence of our veterans at the ceremonies strikes a blow to the honor and worthiness of the alliance as a whole."Yershov speaks for a varied group of Russian veterans who believe that post-Soviet Russia, relatively democratic and free, deserves more acceptance from the West on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, which was the opening of the second front that Stalin, the West's ally in World War II, had demanded for so long.

President Boris Yeltsin seemed to signal his compatriots' indignation over the D-Day issue on Friday when he told the Greek foreign minister, Karolos Papoulias, "Russia occupies half of Europe, but until now it is not even considered as part of Europe."

The Allied landing in Normandy on D-Day - carried out mostly by Americans, Britons, and Canadians - is not regarded here with the same awe as elsewhere. Russians tend to focus on the role that the Red Army, fighting in battles and sieges from Stalingrad to Moscow to Kursk, played in helping defeat the Germans.

In a nation that lost more than 20 million people in the "Great Patriotic War," as many elderly citizens still call World War II, some veterans resent their exclusion from the commemoration in France.

"It is well-known to everyone that the Soviet Union was bearing the heaviest burden in the struggle against fascism," said Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov, a military adviser to Yeltsin. Volkogonov said that he considered D-Day a "common victory over fascism."

"We are all people of the planet Earth . . . therefore this victory over the Nazis is our common heritage and this is our joint victory," he said.