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9 May, 2013 07:05

Moscow Red Square parade: Russia celebrates WWII Victory Day

Over 11,000 troops, 101 military hardware and 68 fighter jets and helicopters have taken part in the parade on Moscow’s Red Square – the biggest event among thousands underway in Russia to celebrate WWII victory.

The Red Square Parade – which honors veterans of the bloodiest war in history and showcases Russia’s modern military might – is annually held in Moscow on May 9.

First to march on the bricks of the country’s main square came the future Russian officers - cadets of military schools and young Cossacks – followed by regiments of the Ground Forces, the Navy and other forces. To share the honor of taking part in the Victory Day parade, servicemen – all wearing new ceremonial dress – spent months drilling.  

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich

Watch full version of the Moscow Victory Day parade

About 100 armored vehicles rolled into the square to be followed by the most spectacular and noisy part of the show - the flight of combat aircraft.

Attack choppers Mi-28, Ka-52, strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-22 as well Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters from the Russian Knights and the Swifts aerobatics teams – a total of 68 machines have rocked the Moscow sky to symbolize the 68th anniversary since the end of the WWII in 1945.

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich

Some 1,800 WWII veterans were invited to watch the parade on Red Square along with the country’s top officials. Unfortunately, ordinary spectators couldn't get onto the site without an invitation, but the event was broadcast live on Russian state channels.

Veterans on Red Square before the military parade marking the 68th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War. (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich)

Throughout the country, the day is packed with various events and festivities – from marches of veterans and church services to open-airs, bike rides, retro-car races, and drama shows.

In the capital alone, 1,500 events have been scheduled as part of Victory Day celebrations. The city’s parks are organizing dance floors and exhibitions of military hardware of the 1940ties.

RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Ankov

At noon, a march called “Moscow remembers” was held on the city’s central Tverskoy Boulevard. Anyone who brought photos, letters or medals of their relatives who died in the WWII were able to participate.

Similar marches have taken place in dozens of towns and cities across the former USSR. The biggest “Immortal Regiment” march was in Tomsk in Siberia – where the very idea of the event was born. Some 10,000 people came to participate. “This column is not a funeral procession at all. We want to create an atmosphere of a holiday,” the project coordinator Sergey Kotlovkin told RIA Novosti.

The biggest “Immortal Regiment” march in Tomsk in Siberia. (RIA Novosti / Yakov Andreev)

Meanwhile, St Pete, Ulyanovsk and Samara WWII veterans take part in a race on retro automobiles.

The celebrations will culminate with fireworks in the evening. In Moscow, some 9,000 salute shots will light the sky to the joy of thousands of people who traditionally - together with their friends and families - flock to open spaces at 2200 (1800 GMT) on May 9 to watch the show.

Victory Day remains one of the most important holidays for Russians, a poll by Levada opinion research center revealed. Between 70 and 75 per cent of Russians celebrate May 9 in one or another way. 

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich

The first parade to commemorate the WWII victory was staged on Red Square on June 24, 1945 - over a month after the defeat of Nazi Germany – under the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The Soviet Union paid the highest price for this victory and lost over 26 million lives in the conflict, known as the Great Patriotic War in the former USSR.  

Military parades were regularly held on Red Square on May 9 since 1965 - the 20th anniversary of the Nazi Defeat. The tradition was dropped for a while after the collapse of the USSR, in the beginning of turbulent 90ties. However, it was revived again in 1995 and has been followed ever since.

Apart from Moscow, military parades on May 9 are held in over 20 Russian cities.

The military parade marking the 68th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War, Yekaterinburg. (RIA Novosti / Pavel Lisizin)

The Victory Day parade in Vladivostok on May 9, 2013. (Image courtesy of the Primorsky Krai Administration)

The Victory Day parade in Vladivostok on May 9, 2013. (Image courtesy of the Primorsky Krai Administration)