People watch fireworks exploding over St. Basil's Cathedral during the Victory Day celebrations at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2015. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov) / Reuters
At least 8 million people poured out onto the streets of Russian cities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, and hundreds of thousands marked the date in former Soviet republics and further abroad.
The march of the
Immortal Regiment – younger Russians marching on behalf of their
ancestors who fought in the war, carrying their photographs. Born
three years ago, the idea has become popular throughout the
country, and this year Vladimir Putin was at the head of the
Moscow procession, numbering hundreds of thousands.
Hundreds of thousands
lined the streets of Moscow, as armored vehicles, including the
new Armata T-14 tank, made their way to Red Square for the
parade. On a perfectly clear day – guaranteed by cloud spraying
technology – the celebrating crowds were captured with the help
of a drone.
Over 40 warplanes rose
above Moscow for the parade, coloring the skies above the Kremlin
in the red, blue and white colors of the Russian flag, and
performing their spectacular, award-winning, piloting routines.
Cameras mounted in the cockpits provided stunning views of the
In Severomorsk, located
on Russia’s Arctic coast, a crowd gathered to watch a salute from
the guns of Russia’s formidable Northern Fleet. The onlookers
watched displays from the flagship battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy,
and the brand new Borei-class submarine Vladimir Monomakh.
On what has become a
highly contentious date in the Baltic states, veterans laid
flowers at the foot of the Bronze Soldier memorial in the
Estonian capital of Tallinn. The statue had been relocated in
2007 amid great controversy.
In Kiev, citizens and
politicians from across the political spectrum gathered at the
specifically-chosen People’s Friendship arch. Unlike almost all
the other celebrations, this one was conspicuous in its lack of
Soviet flags and stars – as Communist symbols are now banned in
In the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, more than 30
armored vehicles passed through the central street of Donetsk.
Prominent militant commanders, who have been involved in battles
against government forces for the past year, manned the vehicles
in dress uniform adorned with stars and DPR patches. A new anthem
was presented during the celebrations.
In Belarus, which suffered some of the greatest casualties during
World War II, President Aleksandr Lukashenko and his 11-year-old
son both attended the parade dressed in matching Field Marshall
Those members of the Russian motorcycle club, the Night Wolves,
who had managed to get through European border control and
re-trace the Red Army’s 1945 route to victory, finally arrived in
Berlin. There they attended an Orthodox Church service, before
riding through the streets of the German capital and laying
flowers at the hulking Soviet war memorial in Treptower Park.
The evening ended with a traditional fireworks displays in 26
cities across Russia, with particularly powerful cannonades set
off in cities where fighting was heaviest, such as Volgograd and
Sevastopol. In both, Moscow and St.Peterburg, some of the guns
that featured in the conflict over seventy years ago, were
re-purposed to create the light show.