Everything old is new again: Moscow celebrates May Day in Red Square for first time since 1991

A perfect symbol of Putinism, borrowing the nationalist element in old Soviet pageantry for his own fascist ends. Ideologies come and go but Russian expansionism is forever.

You wanted a “reset,” America? You got it.

Tens of thousands of Russians marched through Red Square on Thursday as part of May Day celebrations in the first such display of Soviet-era-like ceremony since 1991 – the year the Communist Soviet Union dissolved.

“For the first time, stages will be filled, and five thousand (labor) veterans will stand on the tribunes of Red Square,” Sergei Chernov, chairman of the Moscow Labor Union Federation, was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying, ahead of the march, which is being seen as part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to stoke patriotic feelings following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

As many as 2 million people were expected to be on hand for the event organized by Russian labor unions, which are mostly loyal to the Kremlin. In the end, about 100,000 people participated in the celebration, some holding signs saying: “Let’s go to Crimea for vacation” and “Putin is right.” Russian flags fluttered through the crowd.

I’m not sure what to make of the actual crowd count falling so far short of expectations, especially since popular support for Russia is so much a part of the propaganda machine in eastern Ukraine. Could be that Putinistas are simply waiting for the Victory Day parade next Friday, marking the defeat of Nazism in World War II, to really let it all hang out. That’s been bigger than May Day since the USSR collapsed and figures to be even bigger this year, since it’s an overt celebration of military power and gives the Kremlin an easy opportunity to recycle their “Kiev has been seized by Ukrainian Nazis” disinformation. Putin’s expected to spike the football by visiting Crimea that day, because of course he is.

I wonder if he’ll swing by Donetsk or some eastern city too. Because that part of Ukraine is all but gone now.

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