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May 12, 2011

Victory Day

Victory Day, May 9th, marks the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War. It was first begun in the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union following the signing of the surrender document late in the evening on May 8, 1945, but already after midnight by Moscow time, thus May 9th. During the Soviet Union's existence, May 9th was celebrated throughout the USSR and in the countries of the Easter Bloc. The war became a topic of importance in cinema, literature, and history lessons at school, the mass media, and the arts. After the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, most former USSR countries retained the celebration. In Russia during the 1990s, May 9th was not celebrated massively, because Soviet-style mass demonstrations did not fit in with the way the liberal power base in Moscow communicated with the country’s residents. Things changed when Vladimir Putin came to power. He started to promote the prestige of the governing regime and history, national holidays and commemorations all became a source for national self-esteem. Since then Victory Day in Russia has increasingly been turning into a joyous celebration in which popular culture plays a great role. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

Moses Mokvin, 86, a World War II veteran stands in Red Square after the Victory Day Parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany in Moscow, Russia. Tens of thousands of granite-faced soldiers marched in lockstep across Red Square in Russia's annual Victory Day display of military might. The parade, marking the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II, is the centerpiece of Russia's most solemn secular holiday, both commemorating the Soviet Union's enormous sacrifices in the war and asserting the potency of its modern military, May 9, 2011. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press)

People take part in celebrations for Victory Day in St. Petersburg, Russia celebrates the 66th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, May 9, 2011. (Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters) #

A Bulgarian holds a Soviet flag, a hammer and sickle atop it, during the World War II Victory day celebrations in front of the Soviet Army Monument in central Sofia, May 9, 2011. May 9 is celebrated in former Soviet Republics as victory day over Nazi Germany in World War II. (Valentina Petrova/Associated Press) #

Belarussian World War II veterans dance during celebrations marking Victory Day in Minsk, commemorating the 66th anniversary of the end of WWII, May 9, 2011. (Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images) #

Belarussian soldiers march during celebrations marking Victory Day in Minsk, commemorating the 66th anniversary of the end of WWII. (Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images) #

A woman kisses WWII veteran Yuri Smirnov, 85, in downtown Moscow. The parade, marking the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II, is the centerpiece of Russia's most solemn secular holiday, both commemorating the Soviet Union's enormous sacrifices in the war and asserting the potency of its modern military, May 9, 2011. (Sergey Savostyanov/Associated Press) #

A war veteran lays flowers at the World War II memorial as he takes part in the celebrations for Victory Day in Kiev, May 9, 2011. Ukraine celebrates the 66th anniversary of the World War Two victory over Nazi Germany. (Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters) #

Armenian World War II veterans chat during the Victory Day celebrations in Yerevan, May 9, 2011. (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Armenian World War II veteran stands near an artillery piece during the Victory Day celebrations in Yerevan, May 9, 2011. (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images) #

An honor guard salutes in front of the World War II Victory memorial in Kiev during Victory Day celebrations, May 9, 2011. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Belarusian World War II veterans stand near the eternal fire during Victory Day celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, May 9, 2011. Belarus celebrates the allied victory over Nazi Germany on May 9. Three million Belarus citizens died in the war. (Sergey Grits/Associated Press) #

A boy wearing a Soviet era sailor's cap salutes during a Victory Day celebrations in Sevastopol, May 9, 2011. (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Georgian World War II veterans dance as they celebrate Victory Day in Tbilisi, May 9, 2011. (Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Galina Shkura and Mariya Shkura, both World War II veterans, hold a portrait of Chief Marshal Georgiy Zhukov, a symbol of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II as they celebrate Victory Day at a War museum in Kiev, Ukraine, May 9, 2011. (Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press) #

Russian World War II veteran Victor Shepelyov, 84, dances as he celebrates Victory Day on the 66th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany at Gorky park in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Mikhail Metzel/Associated Press) #

A World War II veteran pays his respects at a monument commemorating Victory Day, marking the anniversary of the end of WWII in Kiev, May 9, 2011. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Belarusian soldiers carry flags during the parade celebrating Victory Day in Minsk, Belarus, May 9, 2011. Three million Belarus citizens died in the war. (Sergey Grits/Associated Press) #

Russian police female cadets march during the nation's Victory Day military parade on Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg. Some 20,000 soldiers and Russia's most advanced missiles rumbled across Red Square in a parade marking victory in World War II and reinforcing the country's belief in its Soviet-era might. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian police female cadets march during the nation's Victory Day military parade on Dvortsovaya Square. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian World War II veterans Victor Shepelyov, 84, and Yevgeny Ermolayev, 83, celebrate Victory Day at Gorky park in Moscow. (Mikhail Metzel/Associated Press) #

A World War II veteran shows his grandson their family surname engraved on the memorial to Soviet Heroes during the anniversary of victory over the Nazis, in Ukraine's capital Kiev, May 9, 2011. Ukrainians continue to celebrate the World War II anniversary and Victory Day on May 9 as a national holiday. (Efrem LukatskyAssociated Press) #

Russian marines march along Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. Russia, May 9, 2011. (Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press) #

The Romanian guard regiment march in the front of the monument commemorating the anti-fascist victory during a ceremony marking Victory Day and the anniversary of the end of World War II in the front of Military Academy in Bucharest, May 9, 2011. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian military personnel take part in the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow. Russia was due to march 20,000 soldiers and its most advanced missiles across Red Square in a parade marking victory in World War II. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images) #

A war veteran sits at the World War II memorial during the celebrations for Victory Day in Almaty, May 9, 2011. The tomb reads 'Kiev'. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters) #

Moldovan soldiers march in front of the Victory Memorial in Chisinau, Moldova, May 9, 2011. May 9 is celebrated in former Soviet Republics as victory day over Nazi Germany in World War II. (John McConnico/Associated Press) #

Russian WWII veterans salute as they are escorted during the Victory Day military parade at Moscow's Red Square, Russia, May 9, 2011. (Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press) #

Russian Second World War veterans drink a toast as they celebrate the nation's Victory Day in a park in Moscow, May 9, 2011 marking the anniversary of the end of WWII. (Alexey Sazonov/AFP/Getty Images) #

War veteran Maria Udalova, 92, takes part in the celebrations on Victory Day in Moscow May 9, 2011. Russia celebrates the 66th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany. (Denis Sinyakov/Reuters ) #

A woman kisses war veteran Yevgeny Yermolayev, 84, as they take part in the celebrations for Victory Day in Moscow May 9, 2011. (Denis Sinyakov/Reuters) #

Russian WWII veterans dance near the Bolshoi Theatre after the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Dmitry Kostukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian WWII veterans sit near the Bolshoi Theatre after the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Russian WWII veteran sits near Bolshoi Theatre after the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow in commemoration of the end of WWII, May 9, 2011.(Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Russian WWII veteran walks through Red Square after the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man wears a hat bearing Soviet medals and badges as he attends the celebrations of Victory Day in front of the Soviet Army monument in central Sofia, May 9, 2011. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters) #

World War II veterans chat in front of the Soviet Army monument in central Sofia as part of the Victory Day celebrations. (Stoyan NenovReuters) #

A Russian communist party supporter holds a World War II Soviet poster during a meeting in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian soldiers march through Red Square after the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian military personnel wait before taking part in a military parade in Red Square on the Victory Day in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Alexander Natruskin/Reuters) #

World War II veterans celebrate Victory Day in Tbilisi, Georgia, marking the 66th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, May 9, 2011. (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters) #

Russian marines march along Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. Russia, May 9, 2011. (Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press) #

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov drives in a Soviet era cabriolet as he takes part in the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9, 2011. i(Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian World War II veterans are seen on a giant screen watching as marines march along the Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. Russia, May 9, 2011. (Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press) #

Kyrgyz military trumpeters stand near the Eternal Flame monument during Victory Day celebrations in Bishkek, May 9, 2011 in commemoration of the end of WWII. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian soldiers march through Red Square during the nation's Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images) #

Russian WW II veterans speak at Red Square after the nation's Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 9, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #

World War II veteran from Belarus Knostantin Pronin, 86, sits on a bench as he waits in hopes of finding other men from his unit at Gorky park during Victory Day in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2011. (Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Associated Press) #



 
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