Red flags on Red Square: celebrating the Russian Revolution

Today marks the 97rd anniversary of the Russian Revolution. But something curious is happening. Members of the communist party of course celebrated it, as is their custom:

2014 celebration of October Revolution 01a

But on Red Square itself, another procession was taking place. Here too red flags were everywhere:

1941 March reenactment 20a

1941 March reenactment 01a

Notice the image of Lenin on one of the flags, along with the Red Star. But these are not from ostensible communists. Instead, a re-enactment took place of the legendary procession of 7 November, 1941:

1941 March reenactment 12a

On that day, Stalin decided not only to stay in Moscow but to hold the annual celebration of the October Revolution (old calendar). The decision was an immense one. Hitler planned to take Moscow on the following day and his forces were within kilometres of the city. A state of siege had been declared. But Stalin showed his real grit by going ahead with a massive morale-boosting event. Soldiers marched past and went straight to the nearby front:

1941 March reenactment 00a

As for today:

1941 March reenactment 05a

1941 March reenactment 03a

1941 March reenactment 09a

1941 March reenactment 10a

1941 March reenactment 18a

1941 March reenactment 21a

1941 March reenactment 15a

The wool in those jackets – all of the uniforms worn come from that time – was supplied by Australian sheep, although one wonders whether the sheep knew they were Australian.

And since the Red Army had a significant number of women in its ranks (due to the ‘affirmative action‘ program), women too were involved in the celebration:

1941 March reenactment 04a

1941 March reenactment 22a

Most of those involved were descendants of Red Army soldiers, who did the hard work in defeating Hitler. A few veterans from the original procession were also there (images from RIA Novosti).

But the curious question is: what is going on? Putin and his apparatchiks have been appropriating Soviet history and achievements in a significant manner. Putin is by no stretch a communist, and yet it makes one wonder what is happening. Of course, the warmongering from Europe and the United States is misleading, accusing Putin of wanting to rebuild Stalin’s ’empire’. It says more about them than Russia. These events may be part of that strange streak of Russian exceptionalism, if not some slavic chauvinism mixed in with Great Russian nationalism. Yet, something more is going on with this re-appropriation of history and even soviet symbols.


3 thoughts on “Red flags on Red Square: celebrating the Russian Revolution

  1. What do you think is going on here? To me, this shows that the Putin government is not ashamed of its Soviet past; I take that as a positive development. Do you read something nefarious into this?

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