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Russian pageant for end of Patriotic War

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Russian pageant for end of Patriotic War


There was an explosive finale for Russia’s Red Square pageant where world leaders acknowledged the country’s wartime role and paid homage to its war dead. About 50 heads of state, led by Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a firework display and military parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Once the Cold War showcase for Soviet Union’s military might, Red Square was again filled with army personnel and war veterans marching to traditional anthems. Bush and others stood on a tribune obscuring the marble mausoleum that holds the mummified remains of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin.

After the parade, world leaders joined President Putin in laying floral tributes at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin. The security cordon around Moscow was described as impenetrable. The steel ring was erected amid fears that Chechen rebels may try to launch terrorist attacks.

While world leaders paid homage to huge Soviet war losses, the pageant could not quite hide political tensions. The leaders of Estonia and Lithuania boycotted the event and others pressed for Russia to revise the official view of its Soviet past. The Baltic nations say the defeat of Nazi Germany meant for them the beginning of a second tyranny under Soviet communist rule. In a speech, Vladimir Putin said the world owed a debt to the nearly 27 million Soviet citizens who died during World War II. While not mentioning any discord with Russia’s neighbours, Putin said he was ready to build relations with them.

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