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May 20, 2009

Russia observes Victory Day

May 9th was observed as "Victory Day" in Russia and (to varying degrees) many former Eastern Bloc countries. Commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany 64 years ago, in 1945, Victory Day is both a day of remembrance and recently, for the Russian government, an opportunity to revive the nation's armed forces and global clout. Upwards of 27 million Soviets, both military and civilian, lost their lives in World War II, between 1941 and 1945, and the impact of that conflict still reverberates strongly. Collected here are photos of the recent Victory Day Parade in Moscow, and several other observances in former Eastern Bloc countries. (35 photos total)

Russian MiG-29 fighter jets, an Ilyushin Il-78 refeuling tanker and a Tupolev Tu-95 turboprop long range bomber fly over the Kremlin on Red Square in Moscow on May 7, 2009 during a dress rehearsal for the May 9 Victory Day parade celebrating the end of WII. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian soldiers march during a Victory Day parade rehearsal, outside Moscow in Alabino on April 14, 2009. (OXANA ONIPKO/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian army Topol-M missile launchers are seen entering Red Square with St. Basil's Cathedral in the background, in downtown Moscow, Tuesday, April 28, 2009 during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) #

A young couple embrace as Russian army vehicles roll past towards the Red Square, during a night rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) #

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet flies in front of a decoy countermeasure flare over Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day parade May 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor) #

A column of Russian-built Msta-S, 152mm self-propelled Howitzers rolls across the Moscow Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) #

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (center) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (3rd from right) attend the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow May 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor) #

Russian honor guards stand at attention during the annual Victory Day parade at the Moscow Red Square in Moscow, Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

Russian T-90 tanks roll across Moscow's Red Square, the State Historical Museum of Russia in the background, on Saturday, May 9, 2009, during the annual Victory Day parade. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) #

Russian servicemen march during a Victory Day ceremony at Red Square in Moscow May 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor) #

A man holds Russian and Bulgarian flags near the Soviet Army Monument in central Sofia, Bulgaria on May 9, 2009. Dozens of Bulgarians gathered to celebrate the World War Two Victory Day on Saturday. (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov) #

Belarussian soldiers participate in Victory Day celebrations in Minsk on May 9, 2009 commemorating the end of WWII. Belarus was heavily invoved in the war as its soldiers served in the Soviet Red Army and many battle were fought on its territory. (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Russian World War II veteran wearing a Navy uniform (no name given) toasts his fellow veterans during the annual Victory Day celebration in downtown Moscow on Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #

Russian BTR-90 Infantry fighting vehicles roll down the street in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 7, 2009, during a final rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) #

Two Kamov Ka-50 "Black Shark" coaxial rotor attack helicopters fly in formation over Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day ceremony May 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin) #

Russian soldiers march during a Victory Day parade rehearsal on April 24, 2009 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia. (Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images) #

A boy runs near the Remembrance Wall with the names of fallen World War ll heroes of the Soviet Union, at a World War II memorial in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) #

A war veteran in military uniform stands by a flag with a Soviet red star during a communist demonstration in central Moscow on Victory Day, May 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin) #

Russian soldiers salute unseen spectators as they ride atop their Sprut-SD self-propelled tank destroyers during the annual Victory Day parade at Moscow's Red Square, Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev) #

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev makes a speech on Red Square during the nation's Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2009 in commemoration of the end of WWII. Russia sternly warned its foes not to dare make any aggression against the country, as it put on a Soviet-style show of military might in Red Square including nuclear capable missiles. (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian military cadets of the Emergency Situations Ministry march during the annual Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev) #

Moldovan soldiers hold flowers to honor the dead at the Victory Memorial in Chisinau, Moldova Saturday May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/John McConnico) #

Victor, age 7, dressed in a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt, places flowers at the monument of the Unknown Soldier at a memorial to World War II veterans in a memorial park in Kiev on Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) #

Topol-M missile launchers move through Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, May 9, 2009. (Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Bloomberg News) #

Russian World War II era guns fire traditional salute salvos just outside the Moscow Kremlin on Saturday, May 9, 2009, during the annual Victory Day celebration. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #

Russian fighter jets and a Tu-160 supersonic long-range bomber fly over Red Square during the nation's Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2009. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Russian cadet takes part in a Victory Day parade in Grozny on May 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Said Tsarnayev) #

A woman visits the grave of a Soviet Red Army soldier killed in WWII, at a military graveyard in Moscow on May 8, 2009. (Alexey SAZONOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man stands near a memorial wall for German soldiers that were killed during WWII, about 450km north of Moscow in Korpovo on May 4, 2009. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

People throw earth onto coffins with remains of prisoners of WWII during a reburial ceremony on Memory Field, not far from western Ukrainian city of Slavuta, Khmelnitsky district, on May 8, 2009, one day before Victory Day. Memory Field is on the site of a Nazi concentration camp where about 150,000 Soviet prisoners of the war were killed. (MYKHAYLO MARKIV/AFP/Getty Images) #

A volunteer excavates the site of a mass grave of unidentified Soviet soldiers that were killed during WWII, about 450km north of Moscow in Pochinok on May 3, 2009. As the Victory Day holiday celebrating the end of WII approaches on May 9, history enthusiasts were struggling to identify soldiers' remains and unite them with their relatives. 221 Soviet soldiers, both Russian and Estonian, were unearthed at this location. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Russian WWII history enthusiast excavates the site of a mass grave for unidentified Soviet soldiers that were killed during WWII in Pochinok, Russia on May 3, 2009. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

A volunteer displays unearthed Soviet Red Army identity capsules, about 450km north of Moscow outside of Demyansk on May 3, 2009. Each capsule contains a slip of paper with the name of its bearer, like modern day dog tags. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

Picture taken on May 5, 2009 shows a Russian WWII history enthusiast firing a WWII-era Soviet Red Army signal flare gun in Demyansk. (DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images) #

The eternal flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier is seen backdropped by apartment buildings in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Saturday, May 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) #

 
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