Putin then proceeds to call the Great Patriotic War, the heroic struggle of the Soviet people which defeated Nazism, a "tragic page in our history" and "tragedy" which "we must, first of all, think about how to avoid."
Question: Do you think that by their absence they showed disrespect for the Russian people? What does the memory of the Great Patriotic War mean to the Russian identity today?
Vladimir Putin: It is not a matter of identity. Identity is built on culture, language and history. This war is a tragic page in our history. When we mark such days, festive but also sad given the number of lives lost in that war, we think about the generation that made our freedom and independence possible, about those who triumphed over Nazism. We also think about the fact that no one has the right to forget this tragedy, first of all, because we must think about how to avoid the repetition of anything like that in the future.
That he contradicts himself is the least of the problem. If he tries to be a sophist, then it does not make it better, but worse. First he starts with an authoritative statement/answer, "it is not a matter of [the identity]," then he tries to prove it and fails. Then calls the Great Patriotic War, i.e., the Victory, which is the key part of it, "a tragedy" not to be repeated, then he inserts few more contradictions.
Diagnosis: what is being hidden and suppress in the unconscious for so long is coming through; Putin's own actual character; it can't be denied. It is now very much up and out. Putin's words also help me understand better the reasons for his stunningly feeble speech at the 70th anniversary of May 9, the Victory Day over Nazism, in Moscow.