- Title: RUSSIA: Hundreds rally in Moscow to support army, facing personnel reduction
- Date: 23rd February 2013
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RETIRED OFFICER EDUARD AKOPYAN SAYING: "Regretfully our army is currently unable to protect our motherland, in my opinion. That's why all of us and the country leaders should do very much in order to strengthen the spirit of our army." RALLIERS MARCHING WITH FLAGS RALLIER CARRYING DRAWING DEPICTING SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND OF FEMALE OFFICER, INSCRIPTION READING IN RUSSIAN 'ARMY OF PUTIN TYPE - MANAGERS ARE IN COMMAND' RALLIERS WITH RED FLAGS (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RETIRED REAR-ADMIRAL VASILY POPOVICH SAYING: "We need to undertake all possible measures in order to bring to responsibility, in strict accordance with the law, all those who are in charge of destruction of our army and navy." PEOPLE WITH RED FLAGS AND BANNERS CHANTING 'HOORAY!' PEOPLE MARCHING WITH RED BANNERS SOVIET DICTATOR JOSEPH STALIN'S PORTRAIT IN FRONT OF BANNER VARIOUS OF RALLIERS WITH SOVIET NAVY FLAG, RED FLAGS AND BANNERS
- Embargoed: 10th March 2013 12:00
- Location: Russian Federation
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAE8UHRGTN1FAI1GTEZ7EUVSLH2
- Story Text: Communists and their supporters stage demonstration in central Moscow to celebrate Defenders of the Fatherland Day and to support the Russian army.
Hundreds marched down a central Moscow street on Saturday (February 23), a national holiday celebrating the 'defenders of the homeland', which used to be called the Day of Army and Navy in the Soviet era.
Those present at the rally, mostly Russian Communist party supporters, carried red flags and banners, including old-style flags of the Soviet army and navy, as well as portraits of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and communist party founder Vladimir Lenin.
A lot of men carrying military uniform joined the march.
Many said they took to the street in order to support the army and to protest the ongoing military reform which in their opinion was destroying the Russian armed forces.
"Regretfully our army is currently unable to protect our motherland, in my opinion. That's why all of us and the country leaders should do very much in order to strengthen the spirit of our army," said retired officer Eduard Akopyan.
Some demanded that those in charge of army reforms be held liable.
"We need to undertake all possible measures in order to bring to responsibility, in strict accordance with the law, all those who are in charge of destruction of our army and navy," said retired rear-admiral Vasily Popovich.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sacked former defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov in November 2012, after an investigation, still ongoing, began into suspicious sales of ministry property to insiders.
Defence experts said however military reforms, due to take more than 100,000 officers out of service, would not be in danger under current minister Sergei Shoigu.
The reforms, two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and following two wars in Chechnya that highlighted the military's weaknesses, are intended to create a more modern, mobile and flexible army.
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