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Den' Pobedy v Moskve

     MOSCOW (HT May 9) -- Russians celebrated the 52nd
anniversary of the USSR's historic victory over Nazi Germany
Friday. But they were divided, as has become usual, between
lavish officially-sponsored events and angry opposition-dominated

     The official ceremony was centred on Red Square, where
President Boris Yeltsin reviewed a parade by almost 5,000
military servicemen, mostly Moscow-region cadets.

     Unlike the massive 50th anniversary two years ago, there was
no awesome display of tanks, missiles or other hardware, and Mr.
Yeltsin's address was brief and pointed.

     "The general memory of the war, the grief for its victims
and the pride in the victory live in each of us, in our children
and grandchildren," said Mr. Yeltsin, looking pale and standing
stiffly with other Russian leaders before the mausoleum of
Vladimir Lenin, founder of the USSR.

     "Nobody can fully imagine the entire amount of grief and
sufferings brought by the war to each family. And the pain in
Russian hearts will never fade," he said.

     On the tangled calendar of post-Soviet Russia, Victory Day
is possibly the only holiday that enjoys solid popular support.
Former key Soviet celebrations such as May Day and Revolution Day
remain days off, but are compromised in the eyes of many by their
intimate association with the Communist regime. On the other
hand, resurrected religious festivals like Easter and Christmas
are enthusiastically embraced by only a few, while virtually no
one seems interested in newly-minted official holidays, such as
Mr. Yeltsin's Constitution Day or Russian Independence Day.

     But May 9, anniversary of Nazi Germany's surrender after
history's most destructive war and 27-million Soviet deaths,
remains a day most Russians hold dear to their hearts.

     However, the efforts of Mr. Yeltsin's government to
appropriate the symbolism of the USSR's great victory enrages many
in the Communist opposition, who blame the Russian President for
destroying the Soviet Union and emasculating its armed forces.

[195 lines left ... full text available at <url:http://www.reference.com/cgi-bin/pn/go?choice=message&table=05_1997&mid=1601405&hilit=SCEPTICAL> ]

Article-ID: 05_1997&1609720
Score: 78
Subject: Den' Pobedy v Moskve