Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 92

The 52nd anniversary of victory in World War II was marked in Moscow today by a military parade in Red Square. The parade has been held every year since 1945 but this year the leadership of President Boris Yeltsin took several steps to distance the occasion from Soviet symbolism. Yeltsin launched the ceremonies yesterday when he inaugurated Guard post No 1 at the grave of the unknown soldier close to the Kremlin instead of, as before, at Lenin’s tomb. There was another, unplanned, departure from tradition when ever-controversial parliamentarian Vladimir Zhirinovsky assaulted two television journalists who filmed him arriving late and being denied entry to the ceremony. (NTV, AP, May 8)

Yeltsin was also present yesterday when the foundation stone was laid of a new chapel that is to be built on Arbat Square in downtown Moscow. The chapel, which stands alongside the Ministry of Defense, will occupy the site of a cathedral torn down in 1930. (Itar-Tass, May 8) Lenin would not have approved.

There were further departures from tradition at today’s military parade in Red Square. Yeltsin and other Russian leaders viewed the parade not from atop the Lenin mausoleum but from a temporary dais in front of the tomb. And the parade was for the first time inspected not by the Defense Minister, since Igor Rodionov is a civilian, but by the commander of the Moscow Military District. (NTV, 8 May; BBC, May 9)

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