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.

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    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

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