On Friday, May 9, 2014, Moscow's Red Square was once again the site of massive demonstrations as Russia commemorated the 69th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany. Units representing all branches of the Russian armed forces paraded down the square, as the surrounding buildings, including the Kremlin, were decorated with communist Soviet-era emblems and hammer-and-sickle insignias.
Standing alongside top Russian military brass and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally oversaw the parade. There was the stereotypical goose-stepping, as a select honor guard of Russian soldiers marched under both the modern Russian flag and the red Victory Banner bearing the communist hammer and sickle.
Putin delivered the opening speech, in which he observed,
Sixty-nine years have gone by since the Great Patriotic War ended, but May 9 was and still is our biggest holiday. It is the day of our national triumph and our people’s pride.
On this day we see the overwhelming strength of patriotism and feel especially acutely what it means to be loyal to our homeland and how important it is to defend our country’s interests.
We must remain worthy of our forebears’ deeds.
Speaking to the veterans in attendance, Putin concluded,
We will look after Russia and its glorious history and will make service to our country the highest value, as it always was throughout our history. I am sure it will always be so in the future, too.
Following the president’s speech, the military orchestra played the Soviet National Anthem, which Putin reinstituted as the country’s national anthem in 2000. Drummers from the Moscow Military Music School then took part in military marches as 11,000 ground units from the Russian Ground Forces (army), Russian Navy, Naval Infantry, Russian Air Force, Russian Airborne Troops (VDV), and battalions from both the Strategic Missile Troops and Aerospace Defence Forces, paraded their way down Red Square.
The ground units were followed by a parade of light armored vehicles, heavy tanks, and mobile missile launchers, including Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The parade concluded with Russian helicopters, fighters, jets, and bombers, including Tuplev Tu-160 supersonic strategic bombers and Tuplev Tu-95 “Bear” strategic nuclear bombers, flying in formation over the Kremlin and Red Square.
Victory Day celebrations, commemorating Stalin’s victory over Nazi Germany, were also held in Belarus, parts of which were formerly East Germany, and in the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol, which Russia annexed earlier this year through a controversial “democratic” referendum.
Russia’s Victory Day parade was akin to the Soviet Union’s old May Day celebrations, which incidentally Putin officially reinstated eight days prior on May 1. Although the Russian Communist Party (CPRF/КПРФ) celebrates May Day every May 1, May Day 2014 was the first time since the alleged collapse of the Soviet Union that the Russian government officially authorized it.
As on Victory Day, Putin also gave speeches on May Day. Both Putin’s United Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, led by Gennady Zyuganov, held May Day demonstrations.
Gennady Zyuganov serves in the capacity of both first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, since 1993, and chairman of the Union of Communist Parties — Communist Party of the Soviet Union (UCP-CPSU), since 2001.
Since 1993, Zyuganov has served as an active member of the State Duma (Russian parliament), and since 1996 has also been a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Between 1975 and 1991, Vladimir Putin was an agent of KGB, which Lenin referred to as the (then Cheka) “sword of the shield of the revolution.”
In addition to the array of Soviet emblems, crests, communist red stars, and various hammer-and-sickle flags adorning the surrounding buildings at the Victory Day parade, Russian troops also marched to large red flags bearing the face of Vladimir Lenin (the principal architect and founder of the Soviet Union) with the letters CCCP (the Cyrillic acronym for USSR) below.
Could one imagine if the Bundeswehr (armed forces of Germany) paraded through Berlin today, goose-stepping and marching to flags adorned with Adolf Hitler’s face and surrounding buildings plastered with swastikas? No one doubts the collapse of Nazism in Germany. Yet in Russia, where somehow supposedly “communism is dead,” or so the West has been led to believe, the hammer-and-sickle flags continue to flutter in the Moscow breeze.