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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Visiting Comrades Long for Old Times

MTSoldiers dressed in World War II-era military uniforms marching on Red Square on Wednesday morning to commemorate a 1941 march on the square.
More than 80 communist party delegations from 63 countries marched through central Moscow with up to 20,000 of their Russian comrades Wednesday, lending an international flavor to the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

"Comrade, this is really hard for me to explain," said Morteza Mohammadi, a central committee member of the outlawed Communist Party of Iran, at a function earlier in the day. "We have all come to a place where people actually took power. This is the goal for every one of us."

Oscar Azocar, a member of the political commission of the Communist Party of Chile, said he was thrilled to be in Russia, which was "home to the greatest socio-political event in the history of humanity."

Vladimir Filonov / MT
Alexei Lednev, left, leading a group of original 1941 marchers on Red Square.
"Yes, communism does not rule Russia at the moment. But the emancipated people who lived during socialist times are still with us," Azocar said. "With their help, we can return this country to its people."

Communists from Britain, the former Yugoslavia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Turkey and Brazil lamented President Vladimir Putin's decision in 2005 to cancel the public holiday celebrating the Revolution. Several said it was strictly an internal affair.

John Foster, the international secretary for the Communist Party of Britain, lauded the Bolsheviks, who "built a socialist society that rescued much of Europe, including Britain," he said.

"Restoring socialism and rejecting the ills of capitalism that has gripped Russia is a realistic, though long-term, goal," Foster said.

He said he was saddened by the Russian Communist Party's downward swing during the 1990s and that "the party has become older" since his last visit to Russia, in 1987.

Chanting socialist slogans that reverberated around the city center, throngs of mainly elderly, red-clad communists held a demonstration on Pushkin Square before marching down Tverskaya Ulitsa on Wednesday evening.

Igor Tabakov / MT
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov attending a rally Wednesday evening.
Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of Russia, told the crowd, huddled together in subzero temperatures, that "the whole planet is with us tonight."

"There was no greater event in the 20th century than the October Revolution," Zyuganov said into a microphone atop a stage, to cheers from the supporters.

He attacked Putin for ushering in a "shameful stage" in Russian history and promised that "power will be restored to the people."

The crowd then walked down Tverskaya Ulitsa chanting anti-Putin slogans.

Sergei Udaltsov, leader of the Red Youth Vanguard, described the Revolution as a "breakthrough, an example of the strong will of the people."

After Putin dealt a blow to Kremlin-friendly, left-leaning opposition party A Just Russia by agreeing to head the United Russia party list in Dec. 2 State Duma elections, the Communists may have sniffed a chance to pick up support in the vote.

That chance, coupled with a lingering and effervescent defiance of Putin's decision to cancel what they see as their holiday, spruced up Wednesday's march, which only went ahead after dark to allow people who now work on Nov. 7 to attend.

State television devoted most of its coverage to a morning parade by military cadets and war veterans on Red Square held in honor of a 1941 parade.

NTV television covered the march, but only to show interviews with angry Muscovites stuck in the traffic jams that it caused.

Earlier Wednesday, several hundred veterans and a group of federal and city officials, including Mayor Yury Luzhkov, participated in the celebration of the 66th anniversary of the parade held in 1941 on Red Square. The event was significant as a show of defiance to Germany, which had attacked the Soviet Union that June.

A giant screen in the middle of the GUM store wall bordering Red Square showed some black-and-white clips from Soviet feature films dedicated to various Russian battles.

Luzhkov then greeted the veterans, and 1941 parade participant Mark Ivanikhin directed the troops to start marching. The whole event, including the march, lasted about 45 minutes.

Many participants, including young performers, veterans and spectators, said they enjoyed Wednesday's parade more than last year's edition.

"This parade was more colorful and youthful," said Ivan Sakhno, 84, a participant in the 1941 parade. "That's important because young people are the best thing we have."

Sakhno said Wednesday was the 22nd time that he had marched to commemorate the 1941 event.

Dasha Novikova, 14, a parade performer from a patriotic youth group, Pamyat, or Memory, said this year's parade "was more fun" because more young people participated.

"And it didn't last long, so we didn't get cold," her friend, Yulia Nesterova, 16, added.