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Russia: Red Square Victory Day March Evokes Military Glory Days

Moscow, 9 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Some 5,000 Russian cadets paraded on Moscow's Red Square today to mark the 52nd anniversary of victory in World War II. Russian President Boris Yeltsin told the troops, veterans and other invited guests that it is the "sacred duty of the Russian army" to preserve the traditions that brought victory against the Nazis.

Correspondents say the shine of a parade gave the Russian military a rare upbeat moment at a time when poor funding and morale make the nuclear-equipped force a shadow of its former glory.

Cities across the former Soviet Union also celebrated Victory Day, a widely popular event perhaps because it marks one of the few lasting accomplishments of the communist years.

Tens of thousands of people, many of them war veterans, gathered at the former KGB headquarters in Moscow for a communist-sponsored rally. In a speech to the crowd, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov accused the government of betraying the World War II Soviet victory and warned against an attempt to dissolve the Communist-dominated State Duma. Banners at the rally called for the resignation of Yeltsin.

For the first time since 1945, however, due to lack of funding there was no naval parade in the Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok. Yesterday a state of emergency was declared in Vladivostok because of power shortages.