Russia prepares spectacular Red Square parade

The grandiose Moscow event on May 9 will be replicated on a smaller scale in 71 cities across Russia who will hold their own military parades making it a nationwide event involving around 100,000 troops.

In Moscow, foreign soldiers, including a detachment of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, will join their Russian counterparts on Moscow's most famous square for the first time.

Foreign dignitaries and heads of state will also be present.

Military commanders, who held a rehearsal on Tuesday, have said that the Moscow parade will involve 10,000 troops, 160 military vehicles and 127 aircraft making it the biggest such parade since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Strategic nuclear bombers, MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets, and an array of military helicopters and gunships are expected to fly over Red Square on the day, while on the ground, T-90 battle tanks, intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, and numerous air defence and artillery pieces will trundle across the cobbles.

The tradition of full-scale Red Square military parades was restored by Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, in 2008 in an attempt to project Russia's growing international confidence and influence on the world stage.

In the Soviet era, such parades were traditionally held twice a year, on May Day, and on November 7 to commemorate the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The parade takes it cues from a 1945 Soviet victory parade on Red Square during which Soviet troops tossed the defeated German army's banners, including Hitler's own personal standard, into a sodden mess at Josef Stalin's feet beneath Lenin's tomb.

[Source: Telegraph, London, UK, 02May10]

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