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Moscow gears up for Victory Day celebrations
www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-08 02:41:20

    MOSCOW, May 7 (Xinhuanet) -- With a memorial devoted to the 60th anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany unveiled Saturday, Moscow is gearing up for a grand celebration Monday that will include a Victory Day parade at Red Square and gather a host of world leaders.

    The memorial complex, overlooked by a soaring obelisk dedicated to the war's veterans on the Bowing Hill, was unveiled by President Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

    The complex is composed of 15 bronze pillars standing on podiums, each of which bore the name of a front unit or a fleet that served in the Soviet army during World War II and the name ofits commander.

    "We shall always remember and honor the winners. They defended our right to live and have our own statehood and culture, and they safeguarded the future of our children," Putin said at the unveiling ceremony.

    Downtown Moscow is awash in banners and posters lauding the contributions of individual Soviet battle units to the victory of the war. "Glory belongs to the infantry," a banner read.

    At a bookstore on Tver Street, books about World War II and hand-written letters from readers expressing gratitude to war veterans are on display in show windows.

    "Thank you for your valor and fearlessness, for your patriotism and confidence in victory, for the smiles of our children and our vast land, and for the opportunity to be proud of you," a reader wrote.

    The city is livened up with decorative flags, colored lights and flowers. A huge air balloon bearing the words "Victory 60" has been anchored off Red Square, Moscow's most famous landmark, which is off limits to tourists due to Victory Day parade rehearsals.

    About seven million people are expected to attend the festivities on and around May 9 that feature numerous concerts, fireworks displays and other entertainment in city parks.

    As more than 50 world leaders are due to fly in Sunday for a series of official events, security is high in the city. Black-bereted riot police are combing the streets in the city center and police line the roads leading to Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

    About 20,000 police and soldiers will be on the streets Monday and all shops will be closed in the city center for security reasons, The Moscow Times newspaper reported.

    Police are advising Moscow residents to stay at home Sunday and Monday to avoid huge traffic delays and frequent document checks.

    More than 20 fighter jets and 20 combat helicopters will guard Moscow's airspace on May 9, Russian Air Force Commander General Vladimir Mikhailov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

    Weather control operations began Saturday to dispel clouds above Moscow to make sure the May 9 celebrations stays rain-free. Enditem

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