News / Europe

    Russia Stages First Red Square May Day Parade Since Soviet Days

    • People in helmets dressed as Russian factory workers hold a man wearing a Barack Obama mask in chains as they take part in a Communists demonstration in downtown Moscow, May, 1, 2014.
    • Members of Russia's Communist party carry banners and flags during a May Day rally in Moscow, May 1, 2014.
    • Thousands of Communists march along Kremlin Towers during May Day demonstration in downtown Moscow, May, 1, 2014.
    • Thousands of Communists march during a May Day demonstration in Red Square in downtown Moscow, May 1, 2014.
    • People walk with flags and banners near Red Square during a rally in Moscow, May 1, 2014.
    May Day in Moscow's Red Square
    Reuters
    Russia staged a huge May Day parade on Moscow's Red Square for the first time since the Soviet era on Thursday, with workers holding banners proclaiming support for President Vladimir Putin after the seizure of territory from neighboring Ukraine.
     
    Thousands of trade unionists marched with Russian flags and flags of Putin's ruling United Russia party onto the giant square beneath the Kremlin walls, past the red granite mausoleum of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin.
     
    Many banners displayed traditional slogans for the annual workers' holiday, like: “Peace, Labor, May”. But others were more directly political, alluding to the crisis in neighboring former Soviet republic Ukraine, where Russian troops seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula in March, precipitating the biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War.
     
    “I am proud of my country,” read one. “Putin is right,” said another.
     
    Unlike Kremlin leaders in Soviet times, Putin did not personally preside at the parade from atop the mausoleum. But he carried out another Soviet-era tradition by awarding “Hero of Labor” medals to five workers at a ceremony in the Kremlin. He revived the Stalin-era award a year ago.
     
    Putin has described the breakup of the Soviet Union as a tragedy and overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy in March by declaring Russia's right to intervene in former Soviet countries to protect Russian speakers.
     
    Laws have been changed to make it easier for Russia to annex territory from other former Soviet states and for inhabitants of other parts of the old Soviet Union to get Russian citizenship.
     
    Since the annexation of Crimea, pro-Moscow gunmen have seized territory in eastern Ukraine and Putin has massed tens of thousands of troops on the frontier. He denies he is planning an invasion but proclaims the right to launch one if necessary to defend Russian speakers.
     
    May Day, always an important date in the Soviet calendar and still a major holiday for Russians, has been marked by rallies in other parts of Moscow since the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991, but until now parades were kept off Red Square.

    Patriotic uplift
     
    Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Rossiya 24 TV from Red Square that more than 100,000 people had marched through it.
     
    “This is not by chance, because there is a patriotic uplift and a good mood in the country,” he said.
     
    Russian television also showed footage of a May Day parade in Crimea's capital Simferopol, with Russian flags and banners reading “Crimea is Russia. Welcome home.”
     
    “We are sure that the current patriotic uplift in Crimea will spill over into the whole Russian Federation,” Interfax news agency quoted Crimea's pro-Moscow leader Sergei Aksyonov as telling journalists.
     
    Russia seized the peninsula last month after a pro-Russian Ukrainian president was toppled in February. The United States and European Union accuse Moscow of directing the uprising in south-eastern parts of Ukraine and have imposed sanctions on Russian individuals and companies.
     
    The sanctions, while not hitting Russia's industry directly, have hurt the economy by scaring investors into pulling out capital. The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for Russian 2014 economic growth this to just 0.2 percent on Wednesday and said Russia was already “experiencing recession”.
     
    But at home, the intervention in Ukraine has been enormously popular. One opinion poll on Wednesday showed 82 percent support for Putin, his highest rating since 2010.
     
    “Western sanctions won't affect us. Crimea was historically part of Russia, and it's only right that we've become whole again,” said Tatyana Ivanova, a worker at Moscow Housebuilding Factory No. 1 celebrating May Day with four colleagues.
     
    But not all Muscovites were impressed.
     
    “Today isn't a particularly special holiday, it's just a nice spring day, and people are happy to have an opportunity to celebrate,” said historian Kirill Strakhov, 31, speaking on another square near Moscow's Bolshoi Theater.
     
    “The authorities are trying to drum up support by encouraging patriotic feelings. They ignore the fact that there are many difficult economic and geopolitical problems associated with the unification of Crimea.”
     
    Putin has also revived the Soviet-era practice of staging massive displays of military firepower on Red Square to mark May 9, the allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, one of the most important days in the Soviet and Russian calendars.
     
    Central Moscow streets have been partially closed in recent days as tanks and mobile rocket launchers rehearse for that parade next week.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Conrad from: USA
    May 03, 2014 1:46 PM
    I find it hard to believe that any Russians would use Communist symbols now days, Especially after what they have been through under that evil system.

    by: sakara from: pa usa
    May 02, 2014 5:46 PM
    typical for a kgb agent---with hitler, before ww2, not even as anti-usa as putin is now.
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:48 AM
    What do you know about Second World War? I'm just curious.
    Do you know even when it was started and ends?
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:38 AM
    You can't believe because you have never lived there. Your judgement based on the one side information provided by your American media . As most American who can't speak any languages but English you do not have access to any alternative sources and read only what is allowed for you to read. Sorry man but it's true.

    by: Louis from: PA
    May 02, 2014 11:51 AM
    dumb americans will believe this tripe: "seizure of territory from neighboring Ukraine" and "Russian troops seized and annexed the Crimea" - oh, forgot to mention the democratic vote that occurred...
    also, dumb americans should be aware that Voice of America is a US government agency !

    by: Vlad from: San Francisco
    May 02, 2014 9:53 AM
    Just like North Korea - parade military in front of dictator
    Putin's idol is Stalin - and wants to be just like him.
    Brainwashed Russians - USSR here we go again...
    #russiasucks #putinsucks
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:55 AM
    Not you, not me,not anemone in the world knows who putin's idol, if any. Did you ask yourself - who is your idle? May be Josef Kobson?

    by: Adam from: Chicago
    May 02, 2014 6:09 AM
    '“Western sanctions won't affect us. Crimea was historically part of Russia, and it's only right that we've become whole again,” said Tatyana Ivanova, a worker at Moscow Housebuilding Factory No. 1 celebrating May Day with four colleagues.'

    In that case, since East Prussia was historically part of Germany, then it's only right that they should become whole again. I know Russians aren't the brightest bulbs in the European chandelier, but their hypocrisy is astounding.
    In Response

    by: Adam from: Chicago
    May 06, 2014 8:01 AM
    Let's see if I've got this right: because the Soviets lost 27 million lives, that gives them a free pass to commit MORE carnage and atrocities, and ethnically cleanse innocent German civilians from land they've inhabited for centuries? You have a real warped sense of morality. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    And as far as "saving the world" goes, the Russians were simply saving their own necks. Stalin was just as brutal of a dictator as Hitler, and far more people were murdered by the Bolsheviks than the Nazis, so to make the Soviets out to be any kind of heroes is despicable. But coming from a Canuck, I'm not the least bit surprised; you love swilling on your red Kool-Aid up there.
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:31 AM
    Well,well mister Yankee. You forgot who won the Second World War. Before your fellows country men were sitting behind the bush till 1944 Soviets were fighting alone against nazi. they lost 27 million lives against 350 thousand Americans. Prussia is a little compensation for saving the world. Cremona is a bit different story. Of course Putin took advantage of the Ukranian situation although as you know it was belong to Russia. Putin needs to protect his military bases. To protect Russians there is just a pretext. But tell me what America is doing there? In Black Sea? Your president Kennedy was so-o-o in alert when Soviets were in Caribbean

    by: jonathan huang from: canada
    May 01, 2014 2:09 PM
    we chinese also celebrate the May day with our Russian bros!
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:46 AM
    Good staff Jonathan!
    America has a Labor Day instead hardly try to book any campsite
    To drink beer and eat burgers. Go to hell any parades!
    In Response

    by: Adam from: Chicago
    May 02, 2014 5:44 AM
    ...says the Yellow Peril living in Canada.

    by: Mitchel w eisenstein from: Manhattan
    May 01, 2014 11:20 AM
    Russia must be punished for its expansionist behavior. Putin is a murderer with blood on his hands and evil in his soul. He is a remorseless sociopath capable of atrocity
    In Response

    by: Mitch Eisenstein from: Stony Brook, NY
    May 05, 2014 11:03 AM
    Putin makes no excuses for assassinating adversaries abroad. The ring on the Olympic flag which did not open, but was opened with stock footage in Russia, shows the extent to which media manipulation and propaganda have returned, or perhaps never left this dictatorial state. The unopening of the ring represented ho there is still no complete transparency and openness within that country. But the image of openness is what is important.

    The blemishes and flaws of democracies are laid out for all to see. but in Russia they are shoved under the rug. Fortunately, the big lump in the rug sticks out like a sore thumb, for everyone to see. The rebalkanization of eastern Europe is Putins goal. But it will not happen. The cancer will be contained. Putin will be punished financially, and the west can withstand much better than Europe, Russia's threats of retaliation. The free market society is stronger than a society manipulated and strangled by menacing. Even china, with its marriage of capitalism and communism, is poised to cave in on itself
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:41 AM
    Then your Israel fellows must be punished for Palestine expansion
    In Response

    by: Adam from: Chicago
    May 02, 2014 5:55 AM
    Funny that Olga should mention Afghan blood, considering Russians have far more of it on their hands from their 1979-89 invasion than Americans ever will.

    And if she's going to include Japanese civilians, then it's only fair to point out all the blood of German, Latvian, and Estonian civilians on Russian hands.
    In Response

    by: olga from: moscow
    May 02, 2014 4:20 AM
    This is a very accurate profile of American presidents with the blood of thousands Iraqis, Afganis, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. civillians on their hands.

    by: Maxcraft
    May 01, 2014 10:29 AM
    Russia has had a May Day parade every year since the end of the Soviet Union; this article is simply inaccurate sensationalism.

    Very disappointing Voice of America.
    In Response

    by: Peacekeeper from: Canada
    May 04, 2014 1:56 AM
    Agreed

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.