Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Portugese Prime-Minister Goes for a Run on Red Square

During his visit to Moscow, Portuguese prime-minister Jose Socrates went for a run Tuesday morning on Red Square of all places, as Kommersant reports. Flanked by ten security personnel in Portuguese colors Mr. Socrates made several laps around St. Basil's Cathedral and the History museum jogging past the mausoleum which still is host to Vladimir Lenin.

According, to Portuguese journalists, polled by the Kommersant correspondent, the jogging on the world's most important "squares" is not an unusual tradition for the Portuguese prime-minister. The Red Square has recently been positioned by the Russian government as a tourist-friendly destination, set to counter the general perception of it as a place for Soviet military parades. Although still being a host to annual Victory Day parades, it no longer hosts heavy weaponry, and is open for access to the public. In the winter-time a part of it is transformed into a public skating rink, which is often visited by Russian president Putin.

It is also a coincidence that May 28th was the 20th anniversary of the legendary flight, when German amateur aviator Mathias Rust landed a small Cessna 172B airplane (pictured) on Red Square, questioning the ability of Soviet air defense systems. Although Soviet radars tracked his plane while it was crossing into the Soviet Union, the military authorities were very hesitant to shoot it down, after a wide-ranging scandal when Soviet air defense systems shot down a Korean jumbo jet filled with passengers that did not respond to warnings of illegally crossing into Soviet air space several years earlier. It was a huge embarrassment to the Soviet military and led to a series of firings in the Soviet high command.

Twenty years later times have changes and the Red Square now hosts the Portuguese prime-minister who goes for a jog, Paul McCartney who sings "Back to the USSR" to a packed crowd during a concert, and an ice rink in the winter for kids.


Andy said...

The Guardian newspaper interviewed Rust yesterday. Not an entirely happy story, by the looks of it...


nikolay i. said...

What can you expect from someone who illegally lands planes on Red Square, right?

Thanks for the article

Randy said...

Is Russia becoming soft? haha.

Great post on the evolving state of Russia.