Image: Anniversary celebration
Natalia Kolesnikova  /  AFP-Getty Images
Supporters of Russia's Communist Party shout as they march through Moscow on Friday, marking the 91st anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's brutal overthrow of the Tsarist empire.
updated 11/7/2008 4:27:05 PM ET 2008-11-07T21:27:05

Communists marched through central Moscow on Friday to commemorate the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, but the ceremony was eclipsed by an official Red Square parade that focused instead on World War II.

The two events reflect the Kremlin's unresolved efforts to reinterpret the nation's history nearly two decades after the Soviet collapse.

The Nov. 7 anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution was the most important holiday in the Soviet calendar, but since the 1991 Soviet collapse the Kremlin has introduced a series of replacement holidays only to then do away with them.

Three years ago, then-President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation on Nov. 4 of National Unity Day. He also reintroduced many of the most potent Soviet symbols, including the Red Star and the national anthem.

On Friday, several thousand young and old Communists carried hammer-and-sickle flags and chanted slogans as they marched after dark from a central Moscow square — just a few miles from Red Square.

Hours earlier, Russian soldiers marched in World War II uniforms and re-enacted battle scenes in a lavish Red Square parade.

That event, attended by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, marks the day Soviet troops marched on Red Square in 1941 and headed straight to the front line, which was then just a few dozen miles outside the city.

Remembering the revolution
The Red Square parade was broadcast live on state-run TV, while the Communist march was ignored.

The Kremlin has tried to emphasize select events from Soviet history, such as the war victory, while ignoring some of the atrocities of the regime. It has also sought to mine Russia's pre-Soviet history to highlight certain events.

A survey by the state-run VTsIOM polling center last month suggests that Russians are not likely to forget the revolution soon: 38 percent of respondents said they still saw Nov. 7 as Revolution Day — a 9-point increase from 2005.

The poll of 1,600 people nationwide had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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