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:

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

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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:

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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:

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As for today:

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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:

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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.