Students at a Moscow medical university on Thursday honored the medical professionals who served at the front in World War II with a traditional torchlight procession that unexpectedly sparked controversy this year, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the scene.
The procession has been held in early May every year since 2005, but this year activists called for an end to the practice, claiming it is too reminiscent of the torchlight parades staged in Nazi Germany.
On late Tuesday, editors of the @WakeUpR Twitter feed created a hashtag named “Stop the Torchlight Procession” in Russian and called on its almost 24,000 readers to re-tweet it in order to “make it a top post.”
The procession of about 1,000 students in white robes started at 9 p.m. Thursday in front of the Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry in downtown Moscow and proceeded along the Garden Ring to the site of the clinic from which medical students departed for the front in 1941.
“Each torch has been lit in memory of one of the university’s alumni or members who took part in the World War II and is no longer with us,” university Rector Oleg Yanushevich said at the rally.