Anger as NATO prepares to join Red Square parade

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.

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