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Russia, Ukraine Commemorate Navy Day Holiday - 2001-07-29

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a special parade to commemorate the annual Navy Day holiday to honor sailors and officers, but there is one port in Russia where no festivities were being held.

President Putin joined the president of neighboring Ukraine for a parade involving sailors from both former Soviet republics.

The event took place in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that is now part of Ukraine and is also where the two countries maintain separate naval fleets. Such a parade would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, when Russia and Ukraine were locked in a bitter dispute over how to divide up the old Soviet Black Sea fleet, but relations between the two nations have improved since Mr. Putin took office last year.

In another sign of improved ties between Russia and Ukraine, the presidents of the two countries attended the consecration of a newly reconstructed Orthodox Cathedral before the parade began.

But all Navy Day festivities were cancelled in the far northern Russian town of Severomorsk, the home base of the Russian submarine Kursk, which exploded and sank in the Barents Sea almost a year ago. Relatives and friends of the 118 men who perished on the Kursk said it was impossible to celebrate the holiday this year.

Meanwhile, divers cut a new hole in the side of the sunken submarine as part of plans to raise the wreck in September. The divers have cut several other holes that will be used to attach steel cables to raise the sub to the surface with hydraulic lifts.

The plan is to then tow the wreckage into the major port city of Murmansk.