Russian Sports Club Sets Off Controversy with “For the Capture of Berlin” Medal

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Soviet campaign medal "For the Capture of Berlin" (1945). Photo credit: 1 , 2

One of the largest sports clubs in Russia, CSKA Moscow, has angered WWII vets with medals they are giving to fans that attended their victory over Turkey’s Fenerbahce to win the Euroleague Final.

According to the club, anyone who can prove they were at the game will receive a “For the Capture of Berlin” medal. Supporters that bought their tickets online will receive a medal automatically. Others will need to show ticket stubs or social media photos.

The medals come with a controversy, though. They share a name and a resemblance with the medal given to troops who took part in the capture of Berlin between April 22 and May 2, 1945. CSKA – the Central Army Sports Club – was founded in 1911 and is still linked to the Russian military. Still, the medal has angered fans and politicians, BBC News reported.

Igor Lebedev, the deputy parliament speaker, said that the medal is badly timed now that Russia is seeking to repair relations with Germany. He called the medal “complete nonsense.” He also called it “an insult to our veterans” since the original medal “was gained on the battlefields, blood was spilled for it.”

CSKA’s Facebook page shows an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the medal. Posters have called the club officials “insane,” “imbeciles,” and “off their heads” to belittle the sacrifice of World War II soldiers. One poster said that the club “spat at the war veterans.” Another was “glad my granddad isn’t alive to see this.”

Andrei Vatutin did not apologize for the medal, saying that it has nothing to do with current tensions in Europe and Russia. “It’s nothing to do with revenge,” he said.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE