Moscow celebrates 71st anniversary of end of World War II in Europe

Moscow celebrated the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe on Monday with a parade of 10,000 soldiers.

Russia and other former Soviet countries celebrate the anniversary a day later than other states in the Allied alliance because the official Nazi capitulation in Berlin on May 8, 1945, was late in the evening and past midnight in Moscow.

An estimated 26 million Soviet citizens died during the war, and Victory Day is one of Russia's most revered holidays.

Russian President Vladimir Putin watched Monday's parade in Moscow with his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and then they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near Red Square, the Kremlin said in a statement.

"This year marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War: on June 22, 1941, the Nazis treacherously attacked the Soviet Union. The life of a huge country changed in an instant," Putin said in a speech.

"At this tragic turning point, there was but one choice, a superior choice to be made – saving the fatherland became the top priority for the entire people," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

About 200 military vehicles and 70 warplanes participated in the parade in central Moscow, state media reported. The parade was scaled down from last year's 70th-anniversary jubilee, which featured about twice as many planes and 50 per cent more troops.

Last update: Mon, 09/05/2016 - 16:35

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