First, there are the real (or more or less real-looking) veterans:
Then, there are the so-called average Russians, many of them with all kinds of flags:
And at least one non-Russian, with a Soviet flag:
And there's also this kid:
Then, there's all the disgusting Stalinist shit from Lubyanka Square:
And some more freaks from the same rally:
And finally, there are the nationalists, marching toward Pushkinskaya Square and making themselves comfortable there:
All in all, 87 photos.
I had only two hours for picture-taking that day, which is probably good, because, honestly, it was something I'd rather not see.
Two years ago, I didn't have to rush back to Marta (though I was already pregnant), and I spent about four hours among the freaks. Then, they were all piled together near Belaruskiy Train Station - and it was something. That was one of the first times when it occurred to me that if these people were the alternative to Putin, then it'd be better for Putin to stay. I also sort of sympathized with the cops then - the freaks were cursing them for those four hours non-stop and it would've been a completely logical human reaction to end it all in fucking bloodshed. But it ended peacefully then.
This year, they were allowed to march through the city. Accompanied by the riot cops, yes, but still, this was something that Kasparov's folks were not allowed to do on April 14. Strange, huh?
Two years ago, the freaks were really hurt by Putin's decision to occupy Red Square, fill it up with all the foreign guests - it was the 60th anniversary of the Victory. They were really mad at Putin then.
This year, they cursed Yeltsin the Drunk for having died before standing trial, and they also cursed the der'mocrats (this is what they call the "democrats" - "shitocrats"). I heard one of the speakers say that Putin was an okay guy, sober, but there was still no Order in the country.
The nationalists also seemed discontent with Putin: they were calling for a "Russian" regime. Kondopoga is the Hero City, according to them, along with Sevastopol. My favorite chant of theirs was "Christ has risen!" - "Indeed, he has!" It sounded weirdly Soviet somehow, the way they chanted it. Many people on Tverskaya looked at them as if they were aliens (the UFO type of aliens, not the gastarbeiter ones from Central Asia).
This year, Red Square was inaccessible again, and the cops, via a loudspeaker, were directing people towards Lubyanka. I found it amazing - because a much more appropriate destination would've been the tiny square in front of the Bolshoi Theater, halfway to Lubyanka, where veterans gather every year to listen to wartime songs and move everyone, including themselves, to tears. But the crowd was encouraged to go to where the Stalinist freaks were:
Around the flowerbed where Felix Dzerzhinsky used to stand, there was a little flea market: Soviet-time books, Stalin's portraits, toy soldiers. One woman was selling Taras Shevchenko's Kobzar, among other things (a Russian translation, the black-and-red book in the very center):
Darkness at Noon has a wonderful roundup of the day, with great pictures. He was lucky to see only one portrait of Stalin that day - the big one, attached to a minivan. I took a picture of it when it was already parked at Lubyanka, but Darkness at Noon saw it being driven there - and it made him wonder:
I don't know how the driver saw where he was going.
Here's my photo of the thing:
This same portrait was there two years ago as well - my 63 photos from the 2005 freak show are at fotopages.com, here.
(In 2006, I photographed the parade in Kyiv - 65 photos are here.)
The old Asian Stalinist from the previous post was there in 2005, too:
She's still wearing the same leather jacket and headscarf, but she's gained some weight in the past two years, and her Stalin is now safe inside a transparent plastic folder.
Back then, she was walking along Tverskaya, all alone, solemnly, and one of my thoughts was, "Doesn't she understand that if she decided to walk like this in, say, 1937, with a portrait of, say, Trotsky, she wouldn't last a hundred meters?"
Now one of my thoughts is, "Old age can be too fucking scary."
As for the Bronze Soldier hysteria, I think Putin is helping the angry folks let the steam out in a way that's safe for his ass. Kasparov is trying to do the same thing, but he's directing all that steam at Putin, not out of Russia, so it's not surprising that they are demonizing him so grotesquely.
But with this yearly Stalinist freak show, I don't get it. Because using the freaks to emphasize how scary/gross Putin's opponents are seems too smart for the people who act with so little common sense against Kasparov.