A parade yesterday filled Moscow’s Garden Ring with all kinds of heavy equipment, from large trucks to helicopters and boats, in a massive show of force. But this wasn’t the Victory Day Parade. That’s in May. This was the Moscow Municipal Service Vehicle Parade.
Held in honor of Moscow City Day, the Russian capital’s very own holiday, this year’s Municipal Service Vehicle parade brought more than 600 vehicles from across the city’s comprehensive set of municipal agencies, from the police department and fire brigades to public transit and the various utilities.
Seeing all of these trucks lined up is pretty impressive to me (and if I were still four years old I probably would have died right there on the spot if I saw this convoy), but I suppose it shouldn’t really be a surprise. The city has done this before in 2016, and Moscow has long been a fan of mobilizing its municipal equipment on a grand scale, like when they pave one of the city’s wide boulevards.
The vehicles were largely all current models in service across the city, but preserved vintage models also featured, including buses built from designs originally passed to the Soviet Union by GM after World War II.
Like the yearly Victory Parade on Red Square, the parade offers an opportunity for outsiders to assess the capabilities of the various agencies represented. The stakes are obviously lower than when new tanks or ICBMs make their international debut on Moscow’s streets, but there is nonetheless much to learn.
One takeaway that I would point out is that while there is a real mix, Moscow’s municipal services make great use of domestic machines. There are lots of KAMAZ and Ural trucks and GAZ vans in the mix, a sign that Russian manufacturers still have a home market more than thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Despite the fact that this parade does look kind of like a bizarro version of the actual show of force on Red Square each spring, there is a real political message to this parade. The parade began at Sakharov Prospekt, and a large exhibition of vehicles followed there after the conclusion of the procession around Moscow’s Garden Ring.
According to Lucian Kim, an NPR correspondent in Moscow, this location is no coincidence. In a tweet, Kim explained that Sakharov Prospekt was the location of “the largest anti-government protests in recent years.” Now, most of this equipment is not involved in law-enforcement (it reportedly didn’t , for example, feature any of Moscow’s “iconic” police buses used for large-scale arrests), but collecting all this equipment in one place is sure to make clear just how much bureaucratic machine exists in Russia, even just on the municipal level.
Lucian’s tweet embedded above is the beginning of a thread that includes more video. Have a look to see just what kind of scale we’re talking about here.