National Geographic : 1978 Jan
city, and workers were stringing colored lights across the bridges. May Day was at hand. I arranged to observe this manifestation by walking with the Novosti Press Agency dele gation and journalist Sasha Grigoriev. The city is in its Sunday best; there are more neckties than I've seen before, and the hotel staff wears fresh uniforms. Beer and sandwich kiosks are everywhere. Columns form in various parts of the city, ours near Komsomol (Young Communist) Square. Ahead of the Novosti float is Pravda's,and not far behind, the Bolshoi's. The floats depict smiling workers, Leonid Brezhnev, sputniks circling the globe. One proclaims: "Raise the Banner of Proletarian Internationalism Even Higher!" N GORKY STREET our column con verges with others. The delegation of Moscow Watch Factory No. 2 draws alongside. We march on, past the Mu seum of the Revolution and Pushkin Square. Few people watch from the street. Shop girls step out in their white smocks and caps, some families peer from windows. Much of Moscow is in the parade-300,000 people and many presumably watch it on TV. I notice knots of soldiers, volunteer police with red armbands, military trucks blocking off side streets. Now we see the Kremlin tow ers and Red Square ahead (pages 22-23). Ten sion begins to build. Other great columns of marchers are coming from left and right on Marx Prospekt. Along the way officials call out over public address systems: "Long live the working class of the country, the living force in the body of Communism!" Cheers from marchers. "Long live the collective farmers, builders of the country!" Cheers again. "Long live the Soviet women!"-cheers "active participants of Soviet life!" Cheers. As we begin the climb into Red Square, soldiers and volunteer policemen stand shoul der to shoulder in long lines, looking into faces, watching arms and hands. I feel that I am being scrutinized by hundreds of eyes. The square is a sea of marching columns, red balloons, banners, floats, and paper flow ers. Atop Lenin's tomb I can see the Soviet Union's chief dignitaries, generals in uniforms, politicians in gray suits and fedoras. Past St. Basil's, it is over. The columns dis integrate, the marchers head for parties. marked one of the last official appearances of President of the Presidium Nikolay Podgorny, one of those distant gray-clad figures atop Lenin's tomb. The next time I would see the Soviet Union's leadership, he would be absent and his job given to another. That was in June, when the Supreme So viet-the national legislature-assembled in the Grand Kremlin Palace. The diplomatic corps and the international press were well represented. Pravdahad announced that Mr. Podgorny was no longer a member of the Pre sidium, and there was speculation that Mr. Brezhnev, head of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R., might now become president as well. Sunlight filtered through curtains into the large assembly room; a statue of Lenin looked down over the proceedings. The chairman of the meeting soon an nounced that Mr. Brezhnev had been nomi nated to the presidency. "Now we must vote. All in favor raise their hands." Every hand went up. "Now all opposed." No hands went up. "All abstaining." No hands. "Now may I introduce the General Secre tary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. and now the President of the Supreme Soviet." Mr. Brezhnev, in a gray suit, thanked the deputies for the "great confidence voted in me," pointed out that it would not be easy to handle the burden of both jobs, but that "the will of the party and of the Soviet people has always been my first law." Applause. To keep abreast of such affairs, many Mus covites turn to Pravda.The party newspaper has a circulation of 11 million. I attended the paper's daily editorial planning conference (pages 18-19). (Continued on page 44) Student relishes a winter workout in a heated open-air pool, while an attendant paces like a muffled bear in the zero-degree cold. Bathers avoid the trauma of entry and exit by diving through a submerged opening that leads to warm dressing areas. Hardier swimmers, dubbed "walruses," often drift amid ice floes in the Moscow River.