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Russia Bars Mexican Fans From Staging Parade Of 'Dead' On Red Square

A Mexico soccer fan walks on Red Square in Moscow on June 21.
A Mexico soccer fan walks on Red Square in Moscow on June 21.

Objections from a Russian communist party have forced Mexico's soccer fans to call off plans to celebrate their team's advance in the World Cup tournament with a parade in Moscow's Red Square.

The Mexican fans had planned to stage a Day of the Dead-themed parade on June 29 -- with fans parading in the famed square in skeleton make-up and costumes -- similar to the celebrations Mexicans engage in every year at home to honor their dead loved ones.

The plan was made as the streets of Moscow and other cities in normally straight-laced Russia have taken on a carnival atmosphere as the World Cup tournament enters its second week, with thousands of fans -- including many Russians -- gathering to watch games in outdoor fan zones and celebrate wildly afterwards when their team wins.

But members of the Communists of Russia party objected to the Mexicans performing what they saw as such as macabre ritual so close to where the body of communist revolutionary and Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and other Russian heroes are entombed in marble.

Party spokesman Sergei Malinkovich said his party, which is separate from the much larger Communist Party, considers the square to be "hallowed" ground and many ordinary Russians would also have been offended.

"Crowds of Mexican louts would have passed by the necropolis of the country's best people wearing costumes of smiling skeletons, jumping, dancing, tooting horns, ringing bells, flirting, and playing love games," Malinkovich told AFP.

He said the party appealed to the Russian Interior Ministry to stop fans from holding the parade, arguing it could provoke violent clashes with Russian patriots.

"Russian people on the square would almost certainly have tried to stop them. There would have been conflicts to say the least, and perhaps clashes," he told Reuters.

Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church also voiced displeasure with the Mexican plan.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill's spokesman, Aleksandr Volkov, speaking on the radio, said that holding the parade on the country's main square would be "rather strange."

The square is usually used as the venue for grand and somber parades and addresses, including the display of the latest Russian military hardware in a May Day parade each year.

Presented with these objections, Mexican fans instead held their celebrations indoors in a designated area. The event was attended by several hundred revelers.

Mexico's team is one of the 16 to make it through to the knock-out stages of the tournament.

Mexican fans said they were disappointed, but they apparently weren't the only ones. The parade plans had created a buzz of anticipation on social media, and the ban produced a lively reaction online as well, including from some disappointed and amused Russians.

Many social media posts poked fun at the authorities for banning the spectacle.

"The dead banned the dead," quipped Aleksei Krzyziewsky in one posting cited by AFP.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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