TARGET 080924

Victory Day (May Day) Parade in Moscow

It used to be one of the highlights of the Soviet calendar - a chance for the communist superpower to show off its military might and for ordinary citizens to see their leaders atop Lenin's tomb.

But 17 years after the last hammer and sickle tanks trundled through Red Square, on May 9, 2008, the Kremlin revived the Soviet-era practice of parading its big weaponry, as well as 6,000 marching soldiers. It showed off its latest tanks and rockets - such as the new intercontinental ballistic missile, Topol-M.

"Under the plan adopted by the president, land and air military equipment was involved in the parade on Red Square," General Yuri Solovyov said. The parade included the new S-300 missile defence system that Russia has just sold to Iran.

The decision to revive this symbol of the cold war is likely to provoke criticism from opposition parties, which accuse Vladimir Putin of turning Russia into a pastiche of the Soviet Union. The parade might also raise a few quizzical eyebrows inside the British embassy in Moscow. Russia has already closed the British Council's two regional offices in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg using what UK officials described as "classic KGB tactics".

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Putin said at his last meeting with Cabinet and Kremlin administration members, that the display of the country's military hardware in a Victory Day parade in Red Square on May 9 did not mean Moscow is threatening anyone. "For the first time in many years, military hardware will be involved in the parade. This is not saber-rattling. We threaten no one and do not intend to do so," "It is a simple display of our growing defense capability," he added.




Gone from this Victory Day parade were the emblems of the communist hammer and cycle, so prevalent in the previous May Day parades, under Communist rule.
Seventeen years ago
But the equipment on display this year was strikingly familiar.
Similar equipment
This year.
This occasion was an excellent opportunity for the West to gather information on Soviet weaponry that they didn't know about yet. There are few restrictions on visitors to the country any more. Foreign nationals can now easily get to view these occasions.

The parades began to go downhill in impact and splendour towards the end of the 1980s and during 1991's parade, Mikhail Gorbachev was actually jeered by protesters who raised their banners to obscure the visages of Russia's famous former leaders.

In actuality, the May Day Parades had always been more a matter of show, and hardly an accurate demonstration of Soviet Military Might even at full spectacle. The soldiers and hardware seen in the parades belonged to special units whose sole purpose was to spend the entire year training, just to march (or drive, or fly) in the May Day Parade. Whether that will be the case with the return of the parade under the name of Victory Day, is yet to be seen.

Just as in past years, observers at the parade look up to the sky to see fighters, helicopters and bombers flying overhead. A small number of aircraft of each type fly overhead, evenly and widely spaced. Once at the horizon and out of sight, they turn around and fly back to their starting point in a wide arc then fly overhead again, creating the impression for the parade-goers of a huge fleet of aircraft.





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More info for The Moscow Military Parade

Also - If you go to Google Earth and enter the following coordinates
you can get a better idea of the area
55º 45'13.17" N
37º 37' 12.25" E
Elevation 153 Meters

Many thanks to Ray McClure for suggesting this target