Russians celebrated their nation’s heroic WWII victory over fascism Sunday with a parade and ceremonies in Moscow.
Two years ago Russian leader Vladimir Putin revived a Soviet-era tradition of parading tanks, missiles and military vehicles across the square and flying aircraft overhead, according to Reuters–this year’s parade included 127 helicopters, fighters, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and refueling planes which screamed over Red Square at low altitudes in close formation.
Ria Novosti featured the parade live on its website.
Voice of Russia proudly called this year’s parade ‘the most massive VE-Day parade in history.’
The Soviet Union suffered the most losses of any country during World War II, with nearly 8 million soldiers killed and 5 million wounded, along with millions of civilian deaths.
Russian forces engaged military contingents from Nazi Germany, Italy, and Romania, as it successfully repulsed invasion on a broad front.
The war on the Russian front involved massive troop concentrations and the largest tank battles in history.
(AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
Victory Day parades involving military hardware were held this year in 36 Russian cities, Ria Novosti reported.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev struck a conciliatory note at the military parade on Sunday, according to Reuter’s, urging world powers to unite for peace and defending his decision to invite NATO troops to march on Red Square.
Troops from the United States, France, and England marched alongside Russian soldiers, sailors, airmen, and veterans for the first time in the Victory Day Parade.
Not all Russians were in favor of allowing NATO troops to parade, although Reuters reports a poll by the independent Levada Center last month showed that 55 percent of Russians were wholly or partly positive about NATO troops at the parade, with only 28 percent against.
“We veterans were against this from the beginning,” said one former naval officer, quoted by Reuters, who declined to give his name.
“The Americans have their interests everywhere, even in our country. Remember when Madeleine Albright said it was not fair that all of Siberia belonged to Russia ?”
Russian bus with picture of Stalin (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
The first Victory Parade was held on Red Square on June 24, 1945 on the order of the then-Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Joseph Stalin, according to Ria Novosti.
In a proposal by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Victory Day celebrations were to have been accompanied by posters of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on city streets, according to a Voice of America article–the Kremlin prohibited the move, however, relegating Stalin to a few indoor locations out of reach of graffiti artists who may have defaced his image.
Communists supported Luzhkov, according to VOA, but opponents condemn the dictator for repressing and killing millions of Soviet citizens.
There is an AP photo of a defaced bus in the attached slide show, in addition to photos of the impressive celebration and ceremonies.
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