A military parade took place on Moscow’s Red Square on May 9 to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, known in Russia as the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War. The parade involved almost 15,000 Russian troops and over 100 pieces of military hardware. A flyover by combat-transport helicopters carrying the flags of the Russian Federation, the Armed Forces, and the separate Army, Navy and Air Force flags completed the parade which was attended by several thousands of WWII veterans, top Russian officials and foreign guests.
Residents of the Russian Far East were the first to start commemorating the May 9 Victory Day in what coincided with last preparations for the Moscow parade. Security was tight in the Russian capital ahead of the event which was preceded by a chime of the bells of the Kremlin Spasskaya Tower.
The beginning of the parade saw the performance of Sacred War by the 1,000-strong Combined Military Orchestra, a song that had always prompted Soviet people to take pride in the country and simultaneously feel sorrow for those killed in what was the worst war in history.
In his address to the parade, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the following.
"Citizens of Russia! Veterans! Comrade soldiers and sailors, sergeants and warrant officers, midshipmen and corporals! Comrade officers, generals and admirals! Congratulations on Victory Day! Congratulations on this day of our people’s triumph and glory! This is our day of memory, our day of pride and mourning, the day that unites everyone in Russia. Sixty-seven years ago, we defeated the terrible and cynical force that was Nazism. We must never forget how that force was born and grew stronger and ever more audacious before the world’s very eyes. We must never forget how barbarians planned the destruction of entire peoples and sought to dictate the destinies of whole countries and continents. We must recognize once again that the Nazis’ aggressive plans did not meet with timely collective resistance and that the divisions between countries and their mutual suspicion and ideological confrontation prevented them from being able to stop World War II. Humanity paid a terrible cost for this, but in the end, the inevitable happened and responsibility and the collective determination to vanquish this evil finally prevailed."
The parade was commanded by deputy chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov and reviewed by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. As was already said, the parade involved over 100 pieces of sophisticated military hardware, including the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, the S-400 Triumph air defense systems, the Buk-M2 anti-aircraft systems, the Iskander-M missile launchers, the BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, and the T-90 battle tanks. Wrapping up the parade were five Mi-8 multi-purpose helicopters which flew over Red Square keeping the 50-meter distance at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
Russia’s WWII veteran Antonina Yefremova said in an interview on Wednesday that she dedicated her life to honoring WWII heroes.
"I currently live in the Moscow Region town of Serpukhov which Vladimir Putin visited in 2005, Yefremova says. He ordered the allocation of 4 million rubles for the construction of a memorial dedicated to 30,000 Soviet soldiers from the 5th Guards Division. The memorial has already been erected, and I hope to meet President Putin today in order to send him an invitation to visit Serpukhov once again," Yefremova concludes.
All those WWII veterans who attended the Wednesday parade also discussed an array of modern-day problems and the latest global developments in a sign that they are still interested in what is going on in Russia and beyond.
Apart from the military parade, a number of other festivities took place in Moscow on Wednesday, including concerts and theater performances for WWII veterans and the younger generation. Victory Day celebrations in Moscow culminated with a grand fireworks display which began at 22.00. p.m. Moscow time.