Victory Day Frenzy Peaks in Moscow

World War II era T-34 Soviet tanks make their way through the Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade which will take place at Moscow’s Red Square on May 9 Picture: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Preparations for the May 9 Victory Day ceremonies and military parade in Moscow have the city on edge. Repeated real-time rehearsals have been blocking traffic as armor and troop formations march time and again through downtown streets to Red Square and back again.

The first workweek of May is shortened in Russia, with May 1 and May 9 being public holidays, so millions of Muscovites took additional days off and left town on April 30 to go to their dachas to plant vegetables, to picnic or to travel somewhere, planning to return on May 11, after the Victory Day hullabaloo is over.

Moscow is a half-deserted town and civilian traffic is reduced, which helps a lot—the traffic jams caused by constant tank war games in the streets are less severe. In addition to the ground parade, hundreds of jets and helicopters have been overflying the capital, going low in close formation to prepare the pilots and crews and acquaint them with the terrain to avoid any hiccups on May 9, in the presence of foreign dignitaries.

On midday May 7, during the last full-dress real-time rehearsal of the parade, an embarrassing hiccup did happen: a new T-14 Armata main battle tank, which has been the focus of a massive propaganda effort to present it as the symbol of Russia’s revitalized military superpower capabilities (see EDM, April 28, 30), apparently lost power and became stranded in the middle of Red Square, opposite Vladimir Lenin’s tomb and the Kremlin…