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9 May, 2007 22:45

Fireworks light Russia’s sky

Fireworks light Russia’s sky

Spectacular fireworks have marked the climax of Victory Day celebrations in Russia. The fiery show wraps up the long national holyday marking the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two.

Firework displays are an essential part of the Victory Day festivities, along with a military parade in Moscow's Red Square and the ringing of Kremlin bells. The tradition dates back to the first Victory Parade in 1945.

Earlier numerous events took place across the country to honour the veterans and war dead. Military parades were the highlight of the celebrations.

One of the most impressive ceremonies was held in the Primorsky region city of Vladivostok. In the parade at the city's main embankment, Russian soldiers marched together with American marines, who serve at the U.S. ship John Mackein. Servicemen from both countries paid their respects to the veterans by kneeling down.

In Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Kamchatka region even snow failed to halt the ceremony. Hundreds of people went to Victory Park to mark the day. People laid wreathes at the city's war memorial. And more than a thousand soldiers took part in a parade.

Krasnoyarsk saw an unusual parade – a dramatised performance called Our Memory and Our Glory. Actors and students from military institutes staged streets performances of World War II scenarios.

Russians in Latvia also paid tribute to victims of World War II. But commemorations in the capital have been marred by a disturbance sparked between the country's anti-fascists and nationalists, who planned to lay a barbed wire wreath at the Soviet war memorial.

In Chechnya President Ramzan Kadyrov and members of the republican government visited Dinamo stadium in the capital Grozny to congratulate the veterans.

Hundreds of troops from the Russian Interior Ministry and Chechen police special forces held a parade.

As life in today's Chechnya is returning back to normal after years of armed conflicts, some lessons are yet to be learned. For the veterans of the Great Patriotic war, and for those who combat terrorism now, the goal is the same. They all want peace in their homes and stability in the republic.

There are 248 veterans in Chechnya. Many of them fought the Great Patriotic War from its first minutes to the very end. According to historians, ethnic Chechens and Ingush soldiers were in the group that was the first to be attacked by Nazi troops at the Soviet-Polish border.

“Chechens and Ingushes shoulder to shoulder with soldiers of other nationalities of the former Soviet Union took active part in the main battles of the Great Patriotic War,” Ibragim Arsanov from the Chechnya Public Chamber said.

“We need to preserve history,” Vladimir Belikov, WW2 veteran, thinks. “Young people should know about the War and how difficult it was for us. This kind of memory unites people. For the sake of the young generation we need to remember the war”.
Vladimir Belikov was born and raised in Chechnya. He was an infantry soldier and fought in Romania, Hungary and Austria.

For Chechens Victory Day is also an opportunity to pay tribute to the republic’s first president, Akhmad Kadirov, who was killed in a terrorist attack three years ago on May 9 . Several government officials also died, and dozens of other civilians were injured. A number of suspects was arrested in connection with the terrorist act, but it is still unclear who was behind it and why they killed Akhmad Kadyrov.

Akhmad Kadyrov still has an enormous following among the Chechens. He fought the war against federal troops in the nineties, during the first Chechen campaign, but together with his army and his son Ramzan Kadyrov switched sides to fight terrorist groups in the republic.

“Akhmad Kadirov wanted to deliver our land from evil,” Muslim Khuchiev, Mayor of Grozny, believes. “He wanted to restore our republic, recover our traditions and customs, give our children a happy life. He wanted to protect all of Russia because it was the Chechen Republic that rose up against the nightmare of terrorism and Wahhabism”.