Russia cancels New Year’s celebration despite previous Kremlin objections to war concerns

New Year’s celebrations have been canceled in Moscow, city officials said Friday, despite objections Kremlin officials expressed to similar calls in other cities last month.

“Voting at Active Citizen on the format of New Year’s celebration attracted great attention of Muscovites,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his blog. “The position of the townspeople is expressed extremely clearly.”

Sobyanin said that some 300,000 people voted over nearly three days on whether the capital city should move ahead with the usual festivities.

Visitors walk at the Christmas and New Year’s market in front of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower at Red Square in Moscow Jan. 15, 2022.
(Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

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“More than 80 percent of the participants supported the holding of New Year’s events and the festive decoration of the city,” he said. “At the same time, 29 percent spoke in favor of the usual format of the celebration, and 52 percent suggested this time to refrain from mass street concerts.”

The Moscow mayor said that, though the city would refrain from “holding fireworks and large street concerts this year,” it would still “meet the holidays bright and decorated.”

The mayor did not expressly disclose why Muscovites felt they should not celebrate as usual during this holiday season but said this year’s celebrations would be dedicated to Russian troops and those who work in the defense industry.

Last month, various reports said “dozens” of cities had decided to scrap plans for lavish celebrations, including St. Petersburg, which instead said it would use the funds to pay for “additional equipment and equipment for volunteers and those who have been mobilized,” according to Reuters.

Deputy Defense Minister Viktor Goremykin rejected the movement and said there was no need for cities to take a role in financing Russian troops, adding that Russian soldiers on the front lines and in training had the equipment they needed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an Orthodox Christmas Mass in a church at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence near Moscow Jan. 7, 2022.
(Alexey Nicolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

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“I consider initiatives in certain regions to cancel New Year’s holiday events for children under the pretext of supporting the armed forces to be premature and unnecessary,” he said, according to a Reuters report.

But Rebekah Koffler, a Russian-born former U.S. intelligence officer specializing in Russian doctrine and strategy and the author of “Putin’s Playbook,” said Moscow’s decision to nix celebrations signifies the Kremlin is also feeling the consequences of its war in Ukraine.

“This is the first time in my lifetime that I recall the Russian government canceling the New Year’s celebration,” Koffler told Fox News, noting that in Russian culture the New Year’s holiday is the biggest celebration of the year.

People walk past Christmas and New Year’s decorations in downtown Moscow Dec. 25, 2021.
(Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

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“The Russian government’s decision to cancel this year’s festivities — Putin almost certainly has approved it, if not outright initiated it – indicates that there’s recognition within the regime that these are dark times for Russia,” Koffler added, referring to the pushback Moscow saw over its mobilization order and the substantial casualties it has taken in Ukraine.

“Russia has become an international pariah, and its citizens are unwelcome in the Western world. There’s little to celebrate this year for the Russians.”