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Russia's upper house voted unanimously Friday to retain a Red Army banner for ceremonies like Victory parades
Russia's upper house voted unanimously Friday to retain a Red Army banner for ceremonies like Victory parades. The Federation Council approved a law, which retains the red banner with the hammer and sickle - the world famous symbol of the former Soviet Union - like the one Soviet troops hoisted on the Reichstag following victory over Nazi Germany in May 1945. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, proposed red banners with white five-pointed stars for ceremonies to commemorate the victory in a bill adopted April 6, overriding the upper chamber's veto. The Duma, dominated by the Kremlin-backed United Russia party, adopted an amended bill April 25 after President Vladimir Putin rejected the original version. "Our fathers and grandfathers fought with the red banner with the hammer and sickle," Nikolai Ryzhkov, a Federation Council member, said. "It was hoisted on the Reichstag, and the symbol of Victory must be preserved." Vladimir Slutsker, who heads a commission on national policy and contacts with religious organizations at the upper chamber, condemned the State Duma's earlier reluctance to retain the banner as an attempt "to rewrite Russian history." Slutsker argued that the banner was a rare symbol unifying different political factions, social, ethnic and religious groups. "An attempt to remove such an epoch-making symbol from our history is tantamount to a desire to shatter the foundation of our society," he said. The bill is yet to be signed into law by Putin, who brought back the Soviet-era red star as the Russian military's emblem in 2002, soothing those nostalgic about their Communist past and alarming others fearing the return of reprisals. The parliament had earlier reinstated the Soviet anthem with new lyrics on Putin's initiative.
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