Both Church And Party Find Circus Profane

Clownish antics and acrobatic feats prompted an unlikely alliance of Communists and Christians on Saturday, as both charged that a circus was inappropriate for fabled Red Square.

The Communists said the circus was a “cynical desecration” of the burial places on the square Lenin and other former Communist leaders.

And Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, joined by a Russian Orthodox priest, said such acts didn’t belong in the shadow of St. Basil’s Cathedral, which is on the square.

“For every patriot Red Square is a sacred place, connected with our great victories and bitter farewells,” read a letter sent to President Boris Yeltsin by the Communist Party’s Moscow committee.

Luzhkov, a Yeltsin ally, also sent a letter to the president asking him to order the circus to move, according to independent NTV television. His protest followed complaints from a priest at the cathedral.

Performers from dozens of countries are taking part in the six-day circus festival. Elaborate sets, built close to St. Basil’s, depict ancient civilizations of Egypt and India and ancient Rome.

Numerous concerts, drawing thousands of people, have been held on the square without drawing protests.

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