Soviet and Russian flags side by side
Moscow -- May 9 - Today Russians observed solemn Victory Day celebrations. This is a day which is hard for many Russian families to forget; my dad's family alone lost nine men and two women in World War II. The Soviet Union claimed that 27 million men and women died during the war, but some historians believe even more Soviet citizens were killed as a result of famine, combat, and mass deportation between 1941-45.
Now that the Soviet Union is gone, there are no more parades with tanks and missiles rolling down Red Square while the leaders watch from boxes as the nation flexes its military muscles. The parade today consisted of a somber march of honor guard army units, carrying flags, symbols and rifles of the victorious Red Army units.
May 9 is one of the best days to visit Moscow -- everything is shut down for pedestrians, there's no crime, and no bitterness -- even police officers are singing war songs along with the veterans. Today was for Russian patriots, not for thousands of marching communists and young thugs waving fascist flags. Many female veterans couldn't walk a 100 yards without strangers handing them flowers in gratitude. The entire megapolis turns into a surreal version of heaven. Two hundred thousand Muscovites participated in the celebration, which ended with fireworks shot into the air 30 times from a hundred weapons - just like back in 1945.
View more photos from Vesti.ru in our extended post
Putin addresses veterans
Defense minister Ivanov greeting the troops