Hard-line rally in Moscow denounces reforms, U.S.

February 24, 1991|By Vladimir Klimenko | Vladimir Klimenko,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MOSCOW - In a distinct throw-back to the pre-Gorbachev past, 60,000 people turned out for a hard-line conservative rally outside Red Square yesterday.

Banners denouncing the U.S. -led war against Iraq figured prominently in the demonstration, the main targets of which were Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin and other Soviet reform politicians, particu-larly in the restive Baltic Republics.

Ostensibly held to honor the Soviet military on Army Day - commemorating the creation of the Soviet army and navy 73 years ago -the rally was in fact organized by the Communist Party with the goal of propelling the conservative tide in Soviet domestic and foreign policy. Party functionaries, World War II veterans and monarchists united in a public display of support for the military and opposition to the anarchy of democracy and free-market policies, which were denounced as alien concepts being foisted on the Soviet Union by the United States and Israel.

"Skimp on your own army today and you'll have to support a foreign one tomorrow," read one banner.

An Iraqi flag fluttered in the middle of the crowd.

Nearer the stage, a large poster stated the point succinctly: "Russians and Arabs - Don't fight. We have a common enemy." The enemy was depicted by a blue Star of David.

The common-enemies list was ev-idently sufficient to overcome the glaring paradox of Communist banners waving alongside portraits of Russia's last czar. Nicholas II, executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Speakers and demonstrators alike denounced Mr. Yeltsin's demand earlier last week that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev resign.

After the demonstration was over, the official nightly news program, "Vremya," gave a glowing account of the rally and exaggerated the number of participants by a factor of four or five.

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