Moscow holds first Red Square May Day parade since Soviet era

May 1, 2014 | By | Reply More

May 01, – About 100,000 people have marched through Red Square to celebrate May Day, the first time the annual parade has been held on the vast cobblestoned square outside the Kremlin since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

hromedia Moscow holds first Red Square May Day parade since Soviet era eu news5In keeping with Soviet-era traditions, Thursday’s parade was organized by trade unions and honored the working man. But it also celebrated Russia’s annexation of Crimea and was seen as part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to stoke patriotic feelings

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 Crimean 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.

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.

Press journalist for HRO media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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