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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President Vladimir Putin (front L) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (C) watch the Victory Day parade. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
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Putin makes a speech before the Victory parade in Red Square, with the Cathedral of st Basil behind him. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
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Russian soldiers march in Red Square. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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Civil defense troops from the Ministry of Emergency Situations marching in Red Square. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (front L) salutes during the Victory Day parade. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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A Russian serviceman aboard an armored personnel carrier salutes next to the flag of Crimea during a Victory Day parade. Reuters/Grigory Dukor
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Topol-M mobile missile launching units drive in formation during the Victory Day parade. The Topol-M, known as SS-27 by NATO, is the latest intercontinental ballistic missile developed by Russia, and the first after the USSR dissolved. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
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A fisheye shot of Russian sailors marching in front of an officer in Red Square. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
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Two Russian officials want women citizens to have a shorter work week than men so they can "address their domestic issues." Above, a Russian air force flyover at the Kremlin. Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva