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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Holiday For Politics On June 12

Russia's Independence Day will be celebrated Wednesday with a joint political rally just off Red Square for presidential hopeful Boris Yeltsin and mayoral candidate Yury Luzhkov.


The holiday, which marks Russia's declaration of sovereignty in 1990, will this year blend into the capital's election frenzy. While neither the president nor the mayor is expected to attend events, the festivities are designed to keep the pair prominently in the public's mind just four days before the June 16 elections.


The rally has been hailed as a celebration of "democratic reforms" and "freedom," and Moscow daily papers have been running front-page stories about it for the past week.


Organized by members of Moscow's intellectual elite, the rally will kick off at 6:30 pm on Vasilievsky Spusk, beneath St. Basil's Cathedral, and will feature such well-known Russian rock bands as Time Machine, Nautilus Pompilius and Bravo, as well as a host of Russian star entertainers. A fireworks show will be held from 10:30 p.m. to about midnight, a mayor's office spokesman said. Nearly 500,000 spectators are expected.


Before marching to the concert, Yeltsin and Luzhkov supporters will celebrate with various stars starting at 5 p.m. The gatherings will be at metro stations Arbatskaya and Novokuznetskaya, by Yauza square and on Tverskaya Ploshchad.


Traffic will be barred from Tverskaya Ulitsa and all major streets connected with the event's four gathering points from 4 p.m. until the end of the rally, said a Moscow traffic police press release.


As city planners have concentrated their energy on the day's political rally, other events for the usually low-key Independence Day pale in comparison. From noon until 4 p.m., three military bands and one ensemble will march and perform at Poklonnaya Gora. Festivals with music and dance will be held through the day in parks in each district.


Political opposition groups will hold their own events. Ultranationalist presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky will speak from noon to 2 p.m. on Teatralnaya Ploshchad by the Karl Marx monument. Nearly simultaneously, several communist organizations, including Working Russia and Soviet Women, plan to hold a rally of 10,000 supporters in front of the Lubyanka from noon until 3 p.m. Nearby streets will be closed to traffic during both demonstrations.


The day will end with a 10 p.m. firework display from points across the city.