Friday, 8 May 2009

No.56 Moscow's May Day Parade

We left late this morning at 9.m. for a parade at 10a.m.. Worst still I was behind the wheel. All else in the party had written themselves off as drivers still being over the limit from jollies attended the night before.

Driving in Moscow is terrifying. Cars come at you from all angles. They overtake on your rightsde and on your left and weave in and out in front of you and the traffic flow like mad things in search of space and faster driving lines.

I parked with great relief barely a mile from the Kremlin in front of the Pushkin museum and an awful lot of policemen whose glare I was keen to avoid.

The May Day Parade I soon learnt is not for tourists or even local Moscovites. It's for about 4,000 specially invited dignataries and the media. For only they can see the parade in it's full glory as it streams by through Red Square - soldiers goose stepping, tanks and other hardware gleaming from newly applied coats of paint, aging war veterans clapping - most sporting chests full of huge numbers of medals.

The rest of us get to see the remnants and the parade either on the way to Red Square or on the way back. Don't get me wrong this is still impressive but a May Day for VIPS and not the Proletariat is an odd juxtaposition.

What I found out from the English newspaper in Moscow is that the army has built a replica Red Square and Kremlin "village" about 50 kilometres outside of the city where the May Day Parade is practiced for a whole month beforehand. Nothing is left to chance when the world's media is watching.

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