Russia held its annual Victory Day Parade in Red Square marking the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.
It was staged to the backdrop of what is seen as a surge of patriotism sparked by the annexation of Crimea.
President Vladimir Putin in his speech made no mention of the current crisis in Ukraine but his language was rich in symbolism.
“This is the day of national triumph, of people’s pride, of sorrow and of eternal remembrance. This is the holiday when we celebrate the all-mighty force of patriotism, when all of us have very strong feelings of what it means to be loyal to your motherland and how important it is to defend its interests,” he said.
The president who earlier this week signed a law making the denial of Nazi crimes a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail was pointed in his criticism of fascist ideology.
“It was our country that chased the Nazis into their lair, achieved their full and final destruction. We won and paid the price of millions of victims and terrible disasters. We will always protect this sacred truth and we won’t allow anyone to forget or betray the heroes,” he added.
This year’s parade featured the Black Sea Marine Corps carrying flags of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
A similar victory parade was held in the Crimean city on Friday afternoon to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi Germany in May 1944.
President Putin flew in for the parade on what was his first visit to Crimea since its annexation. While there he urged other countries to respect Russians’ interests and rights, including the right to self determination.
German Chancellor Angel Merkel had earlier said it would be a “pity” if Putin did attend the parade.
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