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Tajikistan Cancels 'Immortal Regiment' March On Victory Day


Victory Day celebrations in Dushanbe on May 9, 2014

DUSHANBE -- Authorities in Tajikistan have decided not to go ahead with a march called the Immortal Regiment to mark the anniversary of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany, which is celebrated in many former Soviet republics on May 9.

State news agency Hovar reported on May 4 that the decision was prompted by security concerns and "Islamic traditions that do not approve of the public display of pictures of deceased people."

Last year, Tajikistan for the first time held a march of World War II veterans and younger Tajiks holding portraits of relatives who died in the war. The march was inspired by a similar one in Russia.

Immortal Regiment marches have been held across Russia and some other former Soviet republics on May 9 for several years.

Kremlin critics accuse President Vladimir Putin's government of transforming what was initially a grassroots movement honoring the sacrifices made by previous generations in the war, which led to some 27 million deaths in the Soviet Union, into a state-sanctioned event designed to instill patriotism.

With feelings of unity with Moscow inspired by the memory of the war fading, Russia has encouraged other former Soviet republics to hold the marches.

Russia's ambassador to Tajikistan, Igor Lyakin-Frolov, on May 5 voiced regret at Tajikistan's decision not to do so, saying that Tajiks who died in the war deserve to be remembered.

The director of the presidential Strategic Studies Center in Dushanbe, Hudoiberdy Holiknazarov, told RFE/RL on May 5 that the decision had nothing to do with politics.

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