By Slava Tsukerman
On June 12 Russia celebrated Russia Day, officially the most important holiday in Russian Federation. Russia Day has been celebrated every year since 1992, when Soviet Union collapsed and The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Russia. This time the celebration was going on for four days: official holiday June 12 and 13 plus weekend.
According to Wikipedia “… there exists a misconception in Russian society, that this holiday is also called Russia’s Independence Day, but it never had such a name in official documents. According to the survey of Levada Center in May 2009, 44% of the respondents named the holiday as Independence Day of Russia.”
There is a lot of controversy in the Russian attitude about this holiday. In 1990s it was perceived as a celebration of new democratic values adopted by new, non-communistic and non–imperialistic Russia. Today the disintegration of USSR is considered by many Russians, including President Putin, to be “The greatest geopolitical catastrophe of 20th Century.” Some Russians think it is improper to celebrate “the catastrophe”, others are trying to give to the Russia Day a new, patriotic meaning. But a lot of Russians just see the holiday as another opportunity to use two days free of work for rest and recreation fan. This month survey of Levada Center showed that more then 50% of Russians don’t know what is celebrated in Russia on June 12 and 13.
Nevertheless the celebration is huge.
In honor of the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented outstanding citizens with State Prize for 2013. Thousands of festivities, contests, concerts, fireworks took place throughout the country.
In Moscow Red Square 20,000 spectators attended on June 12 a four hour long concert concluded with fireworks.
The concert was the last one on the list of 250 festive events.
As is customary in Moscow on days of big celebrations, early in the morning nine specially equipped aircrafts of the Air Forces sprayed clouds with special reagents in order to kill possible rains and provide good weather in the capital.
The festive events were taking place in the streets, squares, parks, museums, libraries and other cultural institutions.
They included street theater, circus and mime performers, shows of students of theater schools and clubs of historical ostumes, concerts of classic, jazz, folk, pop and dance music, military brass bands.
A Festival of Russian cuisine and regional food products, where one could enjoy such rare delicacies as frosted Yakut venison, was going in the Moscow streets all four days of the celebration.
Very unusual performance, untitled “Crimea belongs to us” took place in the cabins of the 300 ft tall Ferris wheel “Moscow-850”, one of three tallest Ferry wheels in Europe. Seventy musicians performed at the wheel the Russian national anthem and the unofficial anthem of the Crimea “Sevastopol waltz”.
The annexation of Crimea and latest victory of the Russian national team at the World Hockey Championship there were two most popular object of attention of the celebration. Russian media praised a new graffiti painted by patriotic pro-Kremlin artists’ group Network on the wall of the building at Novoslobodskaya Street. The graffiti combines the annexation of Crimea and winning at the Championship with the sentence: “We’ve got back what belongs to us”.
Russia Day was celebrated in Crimea the for the first time. Festivities took place in all regions of the peninsula. The concerts in Crimea towns had such titles like “How delightful are evening in Russia”, and “We are all your children Russia.” (Both phrases are lines from popular songs).
Thousands of residents of Crimea attended festive concert by Locomotive at the biggest Crimean stadium in Simferopol. Athletic contests took place in the days of celebration in the streets of Yalta, the tourist capital of Crimea. Also there was a four day long Russian national music festival in Yalta. Most of Russia’s pop stars participated.