The anniversary Victory Parade in Moscow reminded veterans of the triumphal procession that took place exactly 75 years ago - 24 June 1945. Nearly 15,000 soldiers and officers paraded in front of the grandstands under the same banners as their victorious ancestors.
Sun on Bayonets
The Kremlin Chimes show 09:30 a.m. The parade is still half an hour away, and units of all types and branches of the Armed Forces are already taking their places on the paving stone. The spectators are taking their seats. They are noticeably fewer than usual: mostly veterans are in the stands. The access for journalists is also limited – only cameramen and photo correspondents are allowed in the square. The rest are on duty in the press centre being set up in the Manege. Earlier, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin urged people to watch the parade at home on TV; restrictions on mass events are still in force.
The weather in Moscow is sunny, +24 degrees. But 75 years ago, the capital was hit by heavy rain. It could not disrupt the Triumphant March of the victors. However, Konstantin Rokossovsky, who commanded the Victory Parade in 1945, had to cut open his marshal's uniform along the sleeves after the procession, according to his great-granddaughter Ariadne. The drape fabric had got so wet and stuck to his body, making it impossible to remove the uniform coat otherwise.
Today, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Ground Forces Army General Oleg Salyukov commands the ceremony. And Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is reviewing the parade. Precisely at 10 a.m. to the second, they appear on the square, standing in Aurus parade convertibles, and go round the military units, welcoming each squad. In much the same way, to the sound of “The Jubilee Slow March”, Zhukov and Rokossovsky, riding on cavalry horses Kumir and Polyus, saluted the combined regiments of the fronts of the Great Patriotic War on 24 June 1945.
After that, Shoigu, to the song “Slavsya”(“Glory, Glory to you, holy Rus'!” – ed. note) set to the music of Mikhail Glinka, heads to the centre of Red Square to report to the Supreme Commander on the readiness of the forces.
Tribute to History
The parade begins with a solemn speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who took a place on the central tribune with the guests of honour. Georgy Zhukov spoke seventy-five years ago from the Mausoleum. Both speeches have much in common. Both Zhukov and Putin emphasized the decisive role of the Red Army in the victory over Nazi Germany. It was the Soviet soldiers who crushed the main forces of the Wehrmacht, destroying 75% of German tanks and aircraft.
A triple “Hooray!” is spreading around the Kremlin. A band of young drummers of the Moscow Military Music College named after Lieutenant General Valery Khalilov comes out on Red Square. On 24 June 1945, the parade was opened to the drum roll of their then Suvorov peers. A banner group and guards of honour of all kinds of the Armed Forces of Russia set foot on the paving stone.
Eleven units in the military uniform of the time of the Great Patriotic War are marching behind them along Red Square. The parade squad of the Military Academy of the Strategic Missile Forces is carrying the front banners past the stands. As it was 75 years ago, the first is the banner of the Karelian Front, the last is the 3rd Ukrainian Front. Then – the banner group of the Moscow Higher Combined Arms Command School. Following the banner-bearers, infantry units, pilots, sailors, engineers, scouts, border guards, people's militia and Cossacks are marching along the paving stone at a rate of 120 steps per minute.
Each set of historical parade uniforms is sewn exactly like the one that the frontline soldiers wore to the Victory Parade of 1945. The fabrics and fittings are as similar as possible to those used in the 1940s, including patterned gold embroidery on the officers' coats. The order was executed in the shortest possible time by the St. Petersburg sewing factory named after Volodarsky, which also worked during the war. Soldiers of historical platoons with Mosin rifles in their hands look exactly like their ancestors in the newsreel of 24 June 1945.
75 years ago, only one foreign country took part in the Victory Parade. This honour fell to representatives of the Polish Army, who marched past the Mausoleum as part of the combined regiment of the 1st Belorussian Front. Today, solemn crews of 13 countries: from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, China, Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – 70 soldiers per each unit – marched on Red Square.
Following the guests marching past the stands are Suvorov Military College Cadets, Nakhimov Naval College Students, Young Army National Movement Cadets, women’s units of the Ground Army and Russian Aerospace Forces. They are followed by solemn crews of each type and kind of the Russian Armed Forces and other security agencies. 75 years ago there was no division of the forces – pilots, infantrymen, tank soldiers and scouts marched in a single formation in the combined front regiments, except for sailors. The Navy unit under the command of Vice-Admiral Vladimir Fadeev, consisting of representatives of the Northern, Baltic and the Black Sea Fleets, as well as the Dnieper and Danube Fleets, proceeded separately.
Thirty-one T-34-85 tanks with motors roaring are driving out on the paving stone of Red Square. There has never been such a large-scale display of these legendary cars in modern history. In many respects, it was possible thanks to agreements with Laos, which in January last year donated three dozen serviceable tanks from among those the Soviet Union had previously sold them. Of course, the T-34s also participated in the parade of 1945 – along with the heavy IS-2, they went in the rear-guard of a grandiose formation of 1850 combat vehicles.
After the steel “veterans”, the spectators for the first time saw the modernised main battle tanks T-90M and T-80BVM. The artillerymen pass by the stands on the newest multiple launch rocket launchers “Tornado-S”, which replaced the famous “Smerch”.
Air defence specialists show the S-350 “Vityaz” surface-to-air missile system, and servicemen of the Russian NBC Protection Troops show the heavy TOS-2 “Tosochka” Flamethrower Rocket Launchers on a wheeled chassis. Among the advanced new generation combat vehicles are T-14 tanks and heavy BMP T-15s based on the Armata platform, IFV Kurganets-25, APC Boomerang and self-propelled howitzers Coalition-SV.
75 years ago, the air portion of the parade was cancelled at the last minute due to the non-flight weather, and the armada of more than 220 aircraft remained at the base airfields. Today the weather is excellent, the following aircraft and helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces are flying over Red Square: fighters Su-35, Su-30, MiG-29SMT, Su-57, frontline bombers Su-24M2 and Su-34, strike aircraft Su-25, interceptors MiG-31 with the latest hypersonic missiles Kinzhal (“Dagger”), strategic missile carriers Tu-95 and Tu-160, as well as combat helicopters Mi-35M, Ka-52 and Mi-28.
Just like 75 years ago, the parade ends with the combined orchestra. On 24 June 1945 the musicians performed the march "Glory to the Motherland", and today their descendants play the song "Victory Day".
A RIA Novosti correspondent visited the centre of Moscow and found out what was going on there during the parade.
It was fully crowded since 9 in the morning on Bolshoy Ustinsky bridge above Moskvoretskaya embankment. This is one of the few places where you can see the parade participants at least from afar – the passage of columns of soldiers returning from Red Square and the air show.
All the streets adjoining the Kremlin were blocked for both motorists and pedestrians. Therefore, several thousand people gathered on the bridge. Many were wearing medical masks.
At 10 a.m., many people turn on their smartphones to watch the live broadcast of the parade. The crowd calms down when the president declares a minute of silence, and a few minutes later rejoices to "Glory to the winners! Hooray!" and the cannon salvos, clearly heard on the waterfront as well.
- Are you sure the soldiers will be passing under us?
- Well, they used to come here every year.
- Where can I see military vehicles?
- They make a turn from the Kremlin towards New Arbat Avenue, it's better to go to Zvenigorodskoye Highway.
A few minutes after the end of the parade, the first columns are seen on Moskvoretskaya. Ahead of them are servicemen with banners of the Red Army fronts. “Happy Victory Day!” they yell to the crowd. In response, hundreds of people chant: “Hooray!” Each group passes under the bridge with their song: “Our Cossacks are riding along Berlin”, “Victory Day”, “Oh, Ladoga, Ladoga native!” The familiar songs are immediately picked up on the bridge.
Parade participants are still holding the line, going with measured steps, but now they can afford to relax a little – to smile and wave to the crowd. The column of Baltic Fleet sailors stops on the quay and, as if on command, takes off their navy cut caps and agitates caps for the audience. It seems that the military men are willing to do everything to cheer up the Muscovites.
“This is marvellous! Happy Holiday all of us!” – People congratulate each other.
Above the capital, you can still see the smoky tricolour left by the jets while many are already in a hurry to take pictures with the participants of the triumphant march waiting by the buses on the quay.
Some of those present are rapidly "relocating" to Zvenigorodskoye Highway: there are hundreds of people on both sides of the road, they are waving to the crews of passing vehicles, they are greeting in response. When the legendary T-34 shows up, the audience synchronously bursts into singing “Hello, Mother, we came back, not all of us”. And it does not matter that the parade was postponed, what matters is that the feelings and tears today are the same and true.