Russian president Boris Yeltsin will have the opportunity to don the mantle of Soviet and Russian martial glory tomorrow when he launches the Victory Day parade. According to a Moscow military official, the day’s ceremonies will begin with a report by the parade’s commander, Moscow Military District commander Leonty Kuznetsov. Following a brief inspection of the troops, Yeltsin will address participants in the military parade on Red Square. More than 7,000 troops are scheduled to march. Yesterday Yeltsin issued a decree which congratulated veterans and Russian citizens on the 51st anniversary of the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). He also praised Russia’s current generation of soldiers who, in Yeltsin’s words, are continuing the glorious traditions of those who fought in the world war. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, May 7)
This week also marks the fourth anniversary of the creation of the Russian army, and defense minister Pavel Grachev yesterday described Russian forces as "capable of ensuring national security and protecting the integrity and independence of the country." (Itar-Tass, May 7) The mention of integrity is an apparent reference to the war in Chechnya. Yeltsin’s and Grachev’s remarks raise the obvious question of the extent to which the Kremlin will try to use the coming holiday to link Russia’s current unpopular and brutal campaign in the Caucasus to past military glories. The holiday will also commingle symbols of both Russian and Soviet power.
Yeltsin Says he And Yavlinsky Likely to Hold Second Meeting.