05/01/2020, 14.22
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Virtual May Day celebrated in Moscow

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Putin has promised a more spectacular than usual “air parade”. The Immortal Regiment (Bessmertniy Polk) association will hold an online march. The solemn inauguration of the Great Church of the Armed Forces has been postponed to either 24 June or 3 September. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The May Day, Labour Day, starts Russia’s most important period of civic holidays, which ends with the Victory parade on 9 May, marking the end of the Second World War and the triumph of the Soviet Union under Stalin. This year, great outdoor displays will not be possible because of the coronavirus outbreak, but President Vladimir Putin has promised a more spectacular than usual “air parade”.

In addition to the Orthodox liturgical calendar, Russia’s national identity is centred on these "patriotic" anniversaries that mark great victories and the various periods of the country’s history. For this reason, groups dedicated to national remembrance have organised "virtual" celebrations. The Immortal Regiment (Bessmertniy Polk) association is organising an "online march" similar to those held in previous years (picture 4: a march in Rome).

The association was founded in Tomsk, Siberia, in 2012, by journalists Sergey Lapenkov, Sergey Kolotovkin and Igor Dmitriev. The first march was held with pictures of relatives who took part in past wars; in particular, the “victors” of the fight against Nazism. Today the association is active across Russia and is represented in over 80 countries around the world, where Russian “children of victory” are present. Other groups of this kind have appeared in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

The Immortal Regiment’s website carries family wartime stories and other material. From 1 to 9 May, family pictures will also "parade" on social media, in front of their home, with the special hashtag #Bessmertnyjpolkdoma, linked to the shared homepage.

The children and grandchildren of Victors are invited to highlight their veteran parents’ photo material, tell their story, which will remain available to visitors. Several specialists can help people find information about their glorious forebears.

A patriotic festival titled ‘All faces of memory’ will be held online. Special fireworks will be held on Victory Day, visible from home, with online toasting.

The solemn inauguration of the Great Church of the Armed Forces – built to mark the great victories in Russian history, from those against the Mongols to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 – has been postponed. The church, which looks like a nuclear rocket from the outside, contains mosaics depicting Russia’s “holy victors,” including Stalin and Putin, although the latter will probably be kept in showrooms until they are canonised in the future.

The diameter of the church dome, dedicated to the Resurrection (of Christ and Russia) is 19.45 metres (a reminder of 1945, the year of victory over Nazism); the bell tower is 75 metres (like the years since the Victory); the lower dome is 14.18, in memory of the 1,418 days of war, which for the Soviets went from 1941 to 1945, since they initially stayed out of the war after signing a non-aggression pact with Hitler in 1939. Pieces of German weapons will be mounted on the entrance steps, if Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu gets his way,

Meanwhile, COVID-19 is spreading across the country, with more than 100,000 cases. Yesterday Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin reported that he tested positive for the coronavirus and is now in self-confinement.

Depending on how the coronavirus crisis develops, the church marking Russia’s Victory will be publicly inaugurated on a new date, either 24 June (day of the first parade in 1945, led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, the legendary chief of the army’s general staff), or 3 September (Russia’s Victory Day over Japan).

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