Longing for the good old days.

MOSCOW – Tens of thousands of Russians marched through Red Square on Thursday as part of May Day celebrations in the first such display of Soviet-era-like ceremony since 1991 – the year the Communist Soviet Union dissolved.

“For the first time, stages will be filled, and five thousand (labor) veterans will stand on the tribunes of Red Square,” Sergei Chernov, chairman of the Moscow Labor Union Federation, was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying, ahead of the march, which is being seen as part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to stoke patriotic feelings following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

As many as 2 million people were expected to be on hand for the event organized by Russian labor unions, which are mostly loyal to the Kremlin. In the end, about 100,000 people participated in the celebration, some holding signs saying: “Let’s go to Crimea for vacation” and “Putin is right.” Russian flags fluttered through the crowd.

May Day was celebrated with massive rallies on Red Square during the days of the Soviet Union as a commemoration of labor. Red posters glorifying the working man were carried aloft past members of the Soviet Politburo, the unelected leaders of the state, who stood atop the mausoleum housing the body of the Russian revolutionary and the first Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin.

The Red Army marched past in lockstep, and trucks laden with ICBMs were paraded past the crowds in a show of might to the world.