On May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany signed its unconditional surrender, ending World War II in Europe. It was past midnight in Moscow, and therefore May 9 has since been the day when the Soviet Union, and then most of its successor nations, celebrated Victory Day, or "Den Pobedy" in Russian.
Russians call World War II the Great Patriotic War, and every year they celebrate that victory with a parade on Red Square in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has brought back the grandeur of the Soviet-style parade, after the celebrations were subdued for much of the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin, when Russian nationalism was at its ebb following the dissolution of the USSR.
On Friday, Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attended the parade, in front of the Kremlin, all of them wearing the black-and-orange ribbon of Saint George, a traditional symbol that people wear on Victory Day. This year, the ribbon took an additional, controversial meaning, as many use it to show support for the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Shoigu, a civilian who assumed the rank of a Russian Army general after taking his post in 2012, attended in uniform. After the Moscow parade, Putin flew to Sebastopol in Crimea, for another parade -- the first in the newly annexed region, which joined Russia in March.
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