May Day just hasn't been the same in Russia since Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. toppled the "Evil Empire."
The first day of the merry, merry month was celebrated as International Labor Day in the old Soviet Union. Now it's the less in-your-face Celebration of Spring and Labor.
I still remember grainy newsreel footage of long parades with military hardware, ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and crack troops marching in review before Communist Party bigwigs like Nikita Kruschev and Leonid Brezhnev standing on the balcony of the Kremlin in Moscow.
Gosh, those were the cold, old days.
In the 1950s, the rampant celebration of May Day by socialist nations prompted the American Bar Association and the Eisenhower administration to designate May 1 as Law Day in the United States. Law Day is still around, but it isn't celebrated too much anymore either.
May Day is still a couple of weeks away. And should a grand Moscow parade take place in Russia this year, it ought to forgo the military hardware and instead offer a long line of bright, shiny automobiles. Call it a sign of the times. Auto plants are popping up in Russia like bears emerging from hibernation.
Nissan will build an assembly plant in Russia, maybe near St. Petersburg, where Toyota already is constructing a plant, and Ford and truckmaker Scania are up and running.
General Motors is expanding its operations in Russia and likely will build an assembly plant there.
Renault has a joint venture in Moscow that began producing the Logan last year.
Russian automaker ZAO Avtotor has inked a deal to assemble as many as 150,000 cars a year for Chinese carmaker Chery Automobile at the factory in Kaliningrad, where ZAO Avtotor already assembles vehicles from kits for GM, BMW and Kia.
Meanwhile, AvtoVaz, Russian's biggest automaker, lined up financing to expand its capacity by nearly a half-million units. AvtoVaz produced nearly 1 million vehicles last year.
With Russian consumers already spending an estimated $22 billion on vehicles, the market is likely to keep growing.
Car sales in Russia hit 1.6 million units last year, with about 600,000 of those sold by foreign automakers.
What do you suppose Kruschev would say about that?
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]