Foreign leaders including President Hu Jintao of China and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will watch as over 11,000 troops from World War Two victors Russia, the United States, Britain and France parade to the sound of a huge military band.
Russia’s Communists, still the country’s biggest opposition party, pledged to hold a protest march in central Moscow after the parade. They will chant slogans against NATO forces for marching over a hallowed square which is also home to the embalmed body of their revolutionary hero, Vladimir Lenin.
“Foreign troops have never appeared on Red Square. It’s a violation of tradition,” said Sergei Obukhov, a member of the party’s Central Committee.
“The presence of foreign troops with weapons in their hands is…an unnecessary reminder that we lost the Cold War.“
Obama, unable to come to Moscow because of a scheduling clash, praised the invitation to NATO troops.
“President Medvedev has shown remarkable leadership in honouring the sacrifices of those who came before us, and in speaking so candidly about the Soviet Union’s suppression of elementary rights and freedoms,” he said in a statement.
Most Russians seem to back Medvedev’s invitation to the NATO forces, which will include a detachment of Welsh Guards from Britain and around 70 US troops from the 170th Infantry Brigade based in Germany.
A poll by the independent Levada Centre last month showed that 55 per cent viewed the presence of NATO troops at the parade as wholly or partly positive, with only 28 percent opposing it.