Inside bizarre Moscow St Patricks Day parade long before Russia invaded Ukraine

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  • In scenes that look like they could have been plucked straight from the centre of Dublin, Moscow’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration might raise a few eyebrows.

    During perestroika, or ‘reconstruction’, referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system in the 1990s, Irish “investors were some of the foremost pioneers”.

    “The first influx in Russia in the early 1990s resulted in a high number of Irish living and working in Moscow,” Mike Hogan, a businessman who lived in the city, told the Irish Independent.

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    So Moscow, like many other cities across the world, developed a strong Irish community – and their traditions came with the waves of émigré.

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    The Moscow St. Patrick’s Day parade started in 1992 and has kept on growing, and Irish Central reports that “marching bands, Cossack horsemen, and green beer are found in abundance”.

    But given the conflict in Ukraine is headed by wanted man Vladimir Putin, the celebrations are set to be lower key, especially since the Irish there were urged to leave soon after Mad Vlad invaded.

    In March last year, Brian McElduff, Irish Ambassador to Russia, recommended that Irish citizens living in or visiting Russia who wished to leave should do so “as quickly as possible”.

    But back before the “special military operation” of last February, and the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Moscow had a thriving Irish population.

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    An AP video from 1998 shows the jovial parade snake through the capital city with huge inflatable pints of Guinness and general Celtic merriment.

    A look back over some of the images in the years leading up to the conflict with Ukraine shows Russians willing to embrace other cultures, without relinquishing their own, however.

    Even on St. Patrick’s Day, Putin’s police, Russian flags and Soviet emblems are omnipresent.

    The annual parade, usually organised by the Irish embassy in Moscow, usually takes place on March 17, but it doesn’t appear it is among the full week of activities organised for this year.

    Russo-Irish relations have taken a dent of late. In March last year, four senior officials at the Russian Embassy were asked to leave Ireland.

    The following month two Irish diplomats were asked to leave the Irish Embassy in Moscow, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    In total, nine Russian diplomats and staff members have been booted out of Ireland since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

    1. Putin’s top brass

      A performer holds a Balalaika, a Russian stringed musical instrument, during the 2001 parade

      (Image: Str/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)1 of 8

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    2. From Russia with love

      Nope, this is not O’Connell Street in the Irish capital, it’s in Moscow

      (Image: LightRocket via Getty Images)2 of 8

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    3. Raglanski Road

      People in fancy dress costumes walk past during the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2017

      (Image: AFP via Getty Images)3 of 8

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    4. Dogged determination

      Irish red and white setter at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the park Sokolniki in Moscow, 2016

      (Image: Getty Images)4 of 8

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    1. Peace, love…and Guinness

      Some one thousand employees of Irish and British companies and Muscovites took part in the celebrations

      (Image: AFP via Getty Images)5 of 8

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    2. Celtic heart

      A gaggle of young blokes wrestle eachother to the ground in true Celtic macho style in 2008

      (Image: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)6 of 8

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    3. Putin the work in

      A very convincing looking Celtic warrior tops off his costume by brining along an Irish wolfhound

      (Image: Igor Kharitonov/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)7 of 8

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    4. Battle cry

      A man with his face painted like the Irish national flag shouts while attending the parade, 2009

      (Image: Sergey Ponomarev/AP/REX/Shutterstock)8 of 8

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    • Vladimir Putin
    • Russia
    • Ukraine
    • Russia Ukraine war

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