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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Won't Let Crisis Stop City Day Party




Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has insisted that not even Russia's financial and political maelstrom would be allowed to rain on his parade, announcing Thursday that the City Day celebrations set for this weekend would go ahead regardless.


In what was described as the highlight of the carnival, American stuntman Eric Scott will be propelled across the city skyline by a portable rocket engine from NASA.


But the 30-second aeronautical display will cap what will be an uncharacteristically restrained party. The program of festivities had to be considerably scaled down, Luzhkov told journalists Thursday.


"There will be a celebration but it will be much more modest than those in previous years. I think that the scale of the celebration must be decided according to the difficult situation that recently formed in the country," Luzhkov said.


According to City Hall, the unspecified sum promised by various sponsors shrank in recent weeks by at least 40 percent.


City Hall is itself not planning to spend any money from its budget on the celebrations.


In the face of the financial crisis the city government was forced to abandon the traditional fancy-dress parade along Tverskaya Ulitsa, in downtown Moscow. The parade had been the key event of the City Day celebrations since the holiday was introduced in the late 1980s.


A modest, invitation-only opening ceremony will be held in the mayor's office on Novy Arbat instead of


the parade.


The fireworks displays, too, were canceled due to the lack of cash.


The festivities will pale in comparison with the three-day extravaganza organized last year by Luzhkov to mark Moscow's 850th birthday.


For that event, City Hall staged concerts on every corner, hired Luciano Pavarotti to sing on Red Square, and invited French performer Jean-Michel Jarre to perform at Moscow State University.


According to Luzhkov, this year's celebrations -- by tradition they are always held the first weekend of September -- will be aimed mostly at children.


At least one event is likely to be fairly spectacular. A parade of helium filled dolls will march along Kutuzovsky Prospekt early Saturday afternoon. Featuring some 25 characters from Russian and Soviet fairy tales the parade will have figures as large as 27 meters tall including the much-loved Wolf from famous Soviet "Nu Pogodi!" cartoon series, which translates as "Get Ready!"


However, even the fate of this event remains unclear.


If the wind-speed exceeds 13 meters per second the parade will have to be canceled because of safety concerns. The current forecast estimates the wind for Saturday will be up to nine meters per second.


Though the merriment might seem inappropriate to some, Moscow's media, which is generally sycophantic when it comes to the mayor, did not print a column inch of criticism this week.


In other events, Saturday morning Luzhkov will finally open his freshly completed pet project -- the Moscow Outer Ring Road. Drivers, however, will have to wait until at least Saturday afternoon to use the highway -- the first people to be let loose on it will be marathon runners.


Meanwhile, Vasilyevsky slope and the Manezh Square area will be hosting pop concerts. Choirs will be singing near the Christ the Savior Cathedral, where a special stage and grandstand have been erected.


Traffic delays are expected throughout the city since concerts and entertainment events are expected to be staged in the city's suburbs as well as downtown.