Russia commemorates Victory Day on May 9th. It’s an important date on the calendar, marking the day when Russians got their country back after defeating Nazi Germany in World War Two. If you’re wondering why Russia doesn’t commemorate VE day on the 8th as in western parts of Europe, it’s all to do with the clock. The surrender was agreed late into the evening, by which time it was already the 9th May in Moscow.
It’s important that this event runs smoothly, and to this end, military personnel have spent that last month rehearsing. There have already been several full practice runs for the 74th annual parade, with the final dress rehearsal scheduled for 6th May. If you can’t make it to Russia this year, that practice run will be live streamed.
As you might expect, Russia doesn’t do anything by halves. Parades and ceremonies take place across the country, as well as in many of the former Soviet Bloc countries. 27 other major cities are set to hold parades, the largest of which is planned for St Petersburg, and many more will stage joint civil and military events. But it’s the sight of Red Square in Moscow as a stage for parades of personnel, armoured vehicles and artillery that is the most impressive, a reminder should we need one of the country’s phenomenal military capability.
In the capital, President Vladimir Putin is expected to deliver his 16th holiday address which will follow a parade inspection by Generals Sergey Shoygu and Oleg Salyukov. Several new initiatives have been incorporated in recent years, most notably the inclusion of female regiments and also representatives of the Russian police.
On the day, the two generals will lead military bands, as well as countless divisions, brigades and battalions representing every sector of the armed forces. There’ll be a ceremonial 21-gun salute as the national anthem is played, a source of great pride for Russians everywhere. Tanks, helicopters, surveillance vehicles and even snowmobiles form the mobile column and the invited crowd will crane their necks as the military fly past takes place. Regular visitors aren’t able to access Red Square, but many watch the participants arriving and leaving from vantage points nearby.
In the evening, the city will be in party mood, rounding off the celebrations with a stunning fireworks display. It’s a spectacle worth travelling to Russia for.