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Putin to revive Soviet muscle-flexing parade | Russia | Guardian Unlimited
It was one of the highlights of the Soviet calendar - a chance for the communist superpower to show off its military might and for ordinary citizens to check that their gerontocratic leaders were still alive, perched on top of Lenin's tomb.

But 17 years after the last hammer and sickle tanks trundled through Red Square, the Kremlin is to revive on May 9 the Soviet-era practice of parading its big weaponry, the Russian defence ministry confirmed yesterday. As well as 6,000 marching soldiers, it will show off its latest tanks and rockets - such as the new intercontinental ballistic missile, Topol-M.

"Under the plan adopted by the president, land and air military equipment will be involved in the parade on Red Square," General Yuri Solovyov said. The parade will include the new S-300 missile defence system that Russia has just sold to Iran.

The decision to revive this symbol of the cold war is likely to provoke criticism from opposition parties, which accuse Vladimir Putin of turning Russia into a pastiche of the Soviet Union. The parade might also raise a few quizzical eyebrows inside the British embassy in Moscow. Last week, Russia closed the British Council's two regional offices in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg using what UK officials described as "classic KGB tactics".

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:20:04 PM EST
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