On the morning of Thursday, May 9, Russia's President Vladimir Putin oversaw a military parade of the "Soviet Union" — or so it seemed. Moscow’s Red Square was plastered in communist red stars and hammers and sickles, in commemoration of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the "Great Patriotic War" (World War II) 68 years ago.
Anyone observing the many symbols of communism and communist dictators on display could be forgiven for questioning if Russia had actually moved away from communism. After all, one would not expect (say) Germany to commemorate its history by proudly displaying the Nazi swastika. Why should the hammer and sickle, a symbol for another totalitarian regime responsible for the murder of millions of innocents, be viewed any differently?
Under the symbols of Soviet communism, ten thousand Russian soldiers, marines, sailors, and air force personnel marched in unison, followed by 100 armed vehicles and tanks, concluding with a flyover of 60 military aircraft.
Among the military hardware showcased at the parade were Tigers (a Russian equivalent of a Humvee), armored personal carriers, T-80 tanks, self-propelled howitzers, the C-400 Air Defense Complex, Panzer-S trucks, Ilyushin Il-76 cargo planes, refueling craft, MiG fighter jets, helicopters, and short-range bombers.
Also displayed were a fleet of mobile Topel-M (SS-25) intercontinental ballistic missiles and Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers, both of which are more than capable of delivering nuclear payloads on the mainland United States.
The parade commenced with the ceremonial march of eight soldiers in dress uniform, to the tune of “The Sacred War,” composed by Alexander V. Alexandrov on the same day as the German Army invaded the Soviet Union: June 22, 1941.
In accordance with tradition, the ceremony was headed by the minister of defense — this year Sergey Shoygu, after Putin fired his predecessor Anatoliy Serdyukov on November 6, 2012.
Surrounded by top military brass, President Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev oversaw the parade. Putin delivered a short patriotic speech, crediting the Soviet Union with defeating Nazism, fighting for “freedom,” and for “liberating Europe.”
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