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#4 - JRL 7210
Russian parliament approves red star for army emblem

MOSCOW, June 4 (AFP) - The Russian parliament Wednesday approved a bill reinstating the Soviet-era red star as a symbol of the armed forces featuring on its emblem alongside the tsarist-era double-headed eagle. The bill, passed on first reading by 271 votes to 105 with two abstentions, was presented to parliament by President Vladimir Putin last November in support of a proposal by Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Ivanov declared then that the star, adopted by the Bolshevik commissariat for military affairs on April 19, 1918 and worn by Red Army troops throughout World War II, was "sacred for soldiers."

The yellow-bordered red star was the ubiquitous symbol of the Red Army until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Russian defence ministry's daily publication, however, never dropped the name of Krasnaya Zvezda, or Red Star.

The liberal parties opposed the return of the star, claiming it denoted an attachment to a discredited regime.

In its new design, the armed forces' emblem is to bear the Russian state's sheaf and imperial eagle, with the red star at its four corners.

On the reverse, the two-headed eagle carries a sword and a crown of laurels in its claws.

In 2001, Putin restored the former Soviet anthem with new words written by the same Soviet-era poet who had written the words to the original version.

The star is still widely visible, engraved into the masonry of many buildings and shining from the summit of Russian state power, the tops of the towers around the Kremlin walls.

The bill approving the incorporation of the red star into the army emblem is to be voted on in second reading on Friday.

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