Russia Blasts Rain Clouds to Ensure Sunny Weather for October Revolution Date

In Russia, even the weather has to take a knee to history. Moscow plans to spend over $3 million in just three days to keep the capital's sky clear of rain clouds for the 100-year anniversary of the October Revolution that brought Vladimir Lenin to power.

The Moscow mayor’s office will summon up to 10 cargo and transport jets from the Russian government to eradicate clouds above the Red Square over next week’s celebrations, according to the Interfax news agency. The practice, known as “seeding,” is something Russian authorities often make use of for big public celebrations.

The seeding process for this event will involve An-12, An-26 and Yak-42 aircraft crossing the skies around the capital, spraying a chemical agent that either causes rain to pour instantly before reaching Moscow or, if the cloud is not very large, disperse it into thin air.

The jets either have cannons equipped onboard to fire the powder of granulated carbon dioxide and liquid nitrogen into the cloud, or a crew member manually shovels the particles from a hatch when the plane flies above the cloud.

Similar efforts take place every year for Russia’s most widely marked historical anniversary—May 9, also known as Victory Day, marking the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II. This May, the parade went ahead, but despite the million-dollar initiative to clear the skies, the rain clouds stuck around and ended up grounding all air force celebrations above Moscow.

Unlike Victory Day, the October revolution’s anniversary—once held in the same regard by Soviet authorities—will not be met with huge pomp and circumstance by the Kremlin. In fact, though Moscow is clearing the skies, it could be with an eye to a different commemoration—and sympathizers of Lenin may have to organize their own events to venerate Red October.

Nostalgic Russians keen for a surrogate for the days when Soviet troops lined the Red Square in the first week of November will enjoy a parade. The only difference is that next week’s celebrations will not mention Lenin or the revolution, but celebrate decoy holidays Russian President Vladimir Putin himself installed in the revolution’s place.

Putin created November’s National Unity Day in 2005, and it is one of several post-Soviet national holidays in Russia that are yet to match the popularity of events once prompted by the Communist government. That will take place over the weekend of the revolution's anniversary, and the date of the Bolshevik takeover—November 7—will be overshadowed by another World War II anniversary. The date is now taken by an annual reconstruction of Red Army troops’ march on the Red Square in 1941 when Moscow was under Nazi siege.

While viewed increasingly positively by the Russian people, Soviet founder Lenin has been the target of criticism from Putin. Though the current Russian leader has tried to glorify many aspects of Soviet history, particularly the Red Army’s role in defeating Nazi Germany, his efforts have seldom extended to praising Lenin’s seizure of power by force. That's an idea Putin vehemently objects to anywhere in the world—most importantly, in Red Square.

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