With official Victory Day celebrations off-limits for all but invited guests, police are advising those who decide to remain in Moscow over the long holiday weekend to stay at home.
Still, people who do not mind huge traffic delays, frequent document checks and other unprecedented security measures will have the opportunity to attend numerous concerts, firework displays and other entertainment in parks away from the city center.
More than 50 world leaders will gather for three days to attend a series of official events, including a military parade in Red Square followed by a reception in the Kremlin on Monday.
The city center will be shut down for most of Sunday and Monday, with most downtown metro stations closed, strict restrictions on cars and entry to some streets through metal detectors.
Police said Thursday that Moscow residents should consider staying at home on Sunday and Monday to avoid any hassles but were welcome to head to the downtown areas that would remain open. “There will be a lot of policemen in the streets, and they have orders to check documents and Moscow registration permits,” a police spokeswoman said.
For days now, black-bereted OMON police officers in gray combat fatigues have been patrolling the city center. Crash barriers and concrete blocks have been erected at key entry points to the Kremlin precincts, where the official festivities will be focused.
On Monday, anti-aircraft missile batteries will have orders to shoot down planes that enter the no-fly zone that is always in force over the city, while 20,000 police and soldiers will be on the streets. All shops will be closed in the city center for security reasons that day.
Many main streets will also be closed, spot checks will be stepped up on cars, and access to the main airports will be restricted, traffic police said.
Traffic on main streets leading to city airports will be stopped every time an official delegation arrives and departs. “Every delay could be from 10 to 15 minutes, but we have no idea how many delays there will be,” a traffic police official said.
Another traffic police official, who helps oversee Leningradskoye Shosse, the main highway to Sheremetyevo Airport, said the Federal Guard Service would block the street and part of the Moscow region road connecting to the airport starting on Saturday night. Use of the roads will be severely limited through Tuesday, he said.
The official suggested that drivers use Dmitrovskoye Shosse instead and then turn off near the town of Lobnya. “This way you are sure to reach an area near the airport. From there you can use public transportation or walk,” he said.
But the best way to reach Sheremetyevo, he said, is to use public transportation from the Rechnoi Vokzal or Shchyolkovskaya metro stations.
Since many foreign guests will arrive at the Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo airports, a total of 72 weekend flights will be rerouted to Domodedovo Airport.
Few people are expected to remain in Moscow, and most of those who do plan to stay at home, Komsomolskaya Pravda said. Some 64 percent of residents are planning to leave for the four-day weekend, and only 10 percent of those who stay will venture out of their apartments for Victory Day festivities, according to a poll by the newspaper.
Poklonnaya Gora will host a series of concerts starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, and celebrations there will end with fireworks late Monday. Musicians from Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and other former Soviet republics will perform, as will a number of Russian pop groups. Veterans will be able to participate in a karaoke sing-along of war songs.
Most parks — including Gorky, Izmailovo, Sokolniki, Tagansky and Fili — will host similar events from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days. The Hermitage Garden will offer concerts and plays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the Air Force would seed clouds to prevent any rain from damping the celebrations.
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Red Square, Manezh Square, Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Alexander’s Garden will be closed to traffic and off-limits to pedestrians as foreign delegations lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
From 12 a.m. Mokhovaya Ulitsa, Okhotny Ryad, Ulitsa Petrovka and Teatralnaya Ploshchad will be closed.
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Red Square, Manezh Square, Teatralnaya Ploshchad, Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Alexander’s Garden will be closed as delegations lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and President Vladimir Putin meets veterans at the Bolshoi Theater.
8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tverskaya Ulitsa and 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa up to Belorussky Station will be closed for a re-enactment of the arrival of the Victory Train in 1945.
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The northern exit of Okhotny Ryad metro will be closed. Only veterans with invitations to meet Putin will be allowed to use the exit.
6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Most of the city center will be closed to traffic and pedestrians, including Red Square, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Manezh Square, Slavyanskaya Ploshchad, Lubyanskaya Ploshchad, Bolotnaya Ploshchad, Staraya and Novaya squares, and Bolshoi Kamenny and Moskvoretsky bridges. Streets include Bolotnaya, Mokhovaya, Okhotny Ryad, Balchug, Tverskaya up to Pushkin Square; Teatralny and Kitaigorodsky proyezds; and Moskvoretskaya, Kremlin, Raushskaya and Sofiiskaya quays.
7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Exits from the following metro stations will be closed: Okhotny Ryad, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Teatralnaya, Alexandrovsky Sad, Arbatskaya, Borovitskaya and Lubyanka.