01 May 2007

May Day Part 2: The Rest

After leaving the Comrades at Sverdlov (temporarily renamed Teatralnaya) Square, I headed up the empty street to the Lubyanka, where they're preparing decorations for the May 9 (Victory Day) celebrations.

There I encountered rally held by the "Patriots of Russia" Party, a minor left-wing party formed when its leader, Gennady Semigin split from the Communist Party.

Though they may have been born out of the communists, the Patriots of Russia have an eye on the younger generation, having a rock band perform patriotic-themed songs at the rally. While all age groups were represented, it was a younger crowd than the Communists down the street, and even the babushkas present were tapping their toes to the music.

From there I hopped on the metro and headed over to Pushkin Square, where there was sure to be some action. I was not disappointed, as I popped out right in front of LDPR's rally. I'm not sure blue is Pushkin's color, though. The banner says, "LDPR - We're for the poor! We're for Russians!"

This was a much younger crowd and a larger one than I had just seen at Lubyanka.

They went wild when LDPR leader and political renegade Vladimir Zhirinovsky gave his speech:

But they went even wilder (not joking) when they passed out Zhirinovsky's own line of ice cream (also not joking):

Like the Patriots, LDPR is targeting a younger crowd, resulting in the appearance of a guy rapping about how great Russians are, using the word for ethnic Russians (русский), not the word for citizens of the Russian Federation (российский). Not a big surprise, as the LDPR is on the ultranationalist end of the spectrum.

Not impressed with his rapping skills or his message, I ditched the rapper and worked my way back to the street where I got some photos of Zhirinovsky leaving.

He sped off down the street in his classic Soviet-era ZIL limousine. It has to be some sort of political statement, as his retinue followed in a much nicer modern (western-made) limo.

Then I headed across Tverskaya Ulitsa where there was a very small rally held by the Eurasia Youth Union, the youth wing of the minor Eurasia Party.

Their rally was focused on protesting the recent move by the Estonian government to remove the Soviet-era WWII memorial ("The Bronze Soldier") from central Tallinn, relocating it to a cemetery on the outskirts of the city. The move has infuriated Russians living in Estonia and produced an outcry from Russia as well. The upper house of the Russian parliament recently passed a nonbinding measure calling for the suspension of diplomatic relations with Estonia in response. Even worse has been the street protests, violence, and looting in Tallinn as a result.

Their speeches were heavily nationalistic, calling for action against the Estonian government and the Estonian embassy. And somehow the Americans are responsible for this, though I couldn't quite follow their line of reasoning. In any case, there were quite a few unsavory looking characters among their numbers, many with face masks on like this guy:

The banner on the left says, "The Russians are Coming," and the one on the right - "Arise, Dean Man!." Thanks to Lyndon at Scraps of Moscow for his assistance on the translation.

Not sure what to do with this one, which says Танкин на таллинн. It's close to (but not quite) the word for "tank," in which case it would be something like "Tanks to Tallinn." But I may be way off on this one, as танкин doesn't appear in my dictionary. Almost as disturbing is the small child in front of the sign holding a flag.

The second best line of the day was a chant that the guy with the microphone started: "Glory to the Imperial Behemoth!" The funny thing is that in Russian the word "behemoth" (бегемот) is also the word for "hippopotamus." So it sounded like "Glory to the Imperial Hippo!"

After a while I got tired of listening to their chants and speeches and was feeling a bit hungry. So, I paid homage to the real "Imperial Hippo" and had a Big Mac.

Having spent the day with the Communists, the nationalists, more nationalists, and even more nationalists, I figured McDonald's would make a sufficiently ironic end to my story. Needless to say, I'm Lovin' It!

See the rest of the day's photos here.


Lyndon said...

Russkie idut = "The Russians are coming," especially if you want to put a cold-war spin on it. I've seen this sign before. The second one is more like, "Arise, dead man!" - perhaps an exhortation to the dormant or diffuse sense of national identity that the Eurasianists would like to tap into.

Thanks for the photos - I felt like I was there. And it's a nice break from the comment wars over at Sean's blog. Oh, and from studying for finals. That, too...

Natalia said...

Thank you so much for the photos!

Americans are responsible for everything that's bad in this world, dont'cha know?

And I *hate* Zhirinovsky - that clown. He makes people like Ann Coulter look good.

Anonymous said...

And yes, the comment about tanks translates "Tanks to Tallinn". By the way - there is an interesting twist with Zirinovski, that for some unknown reason he is the only one from Russian politicians, who has said, that Estonians have the right to relocate the monument on their own country, and see what we did in Himki. It is kind of out of his usual line (he has promised to leave couple of towns to Estonia etc), so no idea from where this particular idea came from.