The 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution was marked in different ways in different former Soviet republics – and in some cases, it was hardly marked at all.
The November 7 centenary of the revolution – which ushered in more than seven decades of repressive single-party rule from Moscow across a huge swath of Europe and Asia – came nearly 26 years after the Soviet Union’s collapse.
The Russian Communist Party staged a major march and rally in central Moscow, while other commemorations across the former Soviet Union were smaller. For some, the anniversary was an occasion to criticize the revolution and the Soviet Union, while the vast majority of citizens throughout the region stayed away from the organized events.
In Minsk, some 700 people – most of them members of the Communist Party of Belarus – held a rally on Independence Square. Demonstrators held red Soviet flags and flags of Belarus, portraits of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and red posters praising the revolution and “dictatorship of proletariat.”
Hundreds of people took part in a rally marking the Bolshevik Revolution in Minsk on November 7.
Some 30 people marked the revolution’s centennial anniversary in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, gathering in a park near Saryarqa market and laying flowers at a Lenin monument that was moved from a more prominent location after Kazakhstan and the other 14 republics of the Soviet Union gained independence in its collapse.
A similar commemoration was held in the northwestern Kazakh city of Aqtobe, where a Lenin monument was moved in the 1990s from the central square to a more obscure spot.
In Kyrgyzstan, for the first time since the Soviet era, November 7 was not marked as the anniversary of the 1917 revolution. Instead, November 7 and 8 are now designated the Days of History and Commemoration of Ancestors.
Nonetheless, some 100 Communists and others gathered at a Lenin monument in central Bishkek, bearing red flags and flowers.
Also on November 7, authorities opened the Park of Russian and Kyrgyz People’s Friendship in Bishkek.
In Tajikistan, several Communist leaders laid flowers at a bust of Lenin in the party’s headquarters in Dushanbe.
In Uzbekistan, no official events were held to commemorate the revolution, but authorities announced a November 6 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sharaf Rashidov, who led the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic from 1961 to 1983.
In Moldova, dozens of Communists laid flowers at a Lenin monument that was moved from Chisinau’s center to a park.
In Ukraine, police said vandals poured cement on the eternal flame in the capital’s Park of Glory, which commemorated Soviet soldiers killed in World War II.
Kyiv is deeply at odds with Moscow over Russia’s armed takeover of Crimea and its support for separatists in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.
There were no state-sponsored ceremonies marking the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan or Armenia.
The date was also not marked in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which were occupied by the Soviet Union during World War II but are now members of the European Union and NATO and have severely strained ties with Russia.
With reporting by RFE/RL’s Belarus, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, Moldovan, and Ukrainian services.
Copyright 2017, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036; www.rferl.org (see https://www.rferl.org/a/bolshevik-revolution-russia-s-neighbors-commemorations/28840555.html).