Russia cancels New Year celebrations despite earlier Kremlin objections over war concerns

New Year celebrations have been canceled in Moscow, city officials said on Friday, despite objections made by Kremlin officials to similar calls in other cities over the past month.

“Active Citizen’s vote on the format of the New Year’s celebration drew a lot of attention from Muscovites,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his blog. “The position of the townspeople is expressed very clearly.”

Sobyanin said around 300,000 people voted over almost three days on whether the capital should go ahead with usual celebrations.

Visitors walk at the Christmas and New Year's market in front of the Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower on Red Square in Moscow, January 15, 2022.

Visitors walk at the Christmas and New Year’s market in front of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower on Red Square in Moscow, January 15, 2022.
(Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

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“More than 80 percent of the participants supported the holding of New Year’s events and the festive decoration of the city,” he said. “At the same time, 29 percent were in favor of the usual format of the celebration, and 52 percent suggested doing without mass street concerts this time.”

The Moscow mayor said that while the city will refrain from “fireworks and big street concerts this year,” it will still be “celebrating the holidays bright and adorned.”

The mayor didn’t specifically say why Muscovites felt they shouldn’t celebrate as usual during this holiday season, but said this year’s celebrations are dedicated to Russian troops and those who work in the defense industry.

Last month, various reports said “dozens” of cities had decided to scrap plans for lavish celebrations, including St. Petersburg, which instead said it would use the funds to buy “additional gear and equipment for volunteers and those who.” were mobilized to pay. ‘ according to Reuters.

Deputy Defense Minister Viktor Goremykin opposed the move, saying there was no need for cities to play a role in funding Russian troops, adding that Russian soldiers on the front lines and in training had the necessary equipment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an Orthodox Christmas mass at a church in the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence near Moscow January 7, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an Orthodox Christmas mass at a church in the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence near Moscow January 7, 2022.
(Alexey Nicolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

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“I think initiatives in certain regions to cancel New Year’s Eve events for children under the pretext of supporting the armed forces are premature and unnecessary,” he said, according to a Reuters report.

But Rebekah Koffler, a Russian-born former US intelligence officer who specializes in Russian doctrine and strategy and is the author of “Putin’s Playbook,” said Moscow’s decision not to celebrate means the Kremlin is also facing the consequences of its war in Ukraine is felt.

“This is the first time in my life that I recall that the Russian government canceled the Lunar New Year celebration,” Koffler told Fox News, noting that the Lunar New Year holiday is the biggest celebration of the year in Russian culture.

People walk past Christmas and New Year decorations in downtown Moscow, December 25, 2021.

People walk past Christmas and New Year decorations in downtown Moscow, December 25, 2021.
(Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

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“The Russian government’s decision to cancel this year’s celebrations — which Putin almost certainly endorsed, if not directly initiated — shows an acknowledgment within the regime that these are dark times for Russia,” Koffler added, referring to the setback Moscow saw his mobilization order and the heavy casualties he suffered in Ukraine.

“Russia has become an international pariah and its citizens are not welcome in the western world. There is little to celebrate for Russians this year.”

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