On May 9, Moscow heralded its celebrations of Victory Day with one of the largest military parades seen since the fall of the Soviet Union through the Red Square and the streets of Moscow. Signifying the defeat over Nazi Germany in 1945 in World War 2, Victory Day continues to be one of the most poignant and emotional celebrations and national holidays in Russia. Estimates of more than 27 million lost lives during the war continues to leave a vein of sadness in Russia.
Victory day began early in Moscow with inner city streets being closed from 6am and the major entrance of Tverskaya Ulitsa completely locked down with all access to non-military blocked until the end of the parade. Tens of thousands of people lined the upper parts of Tverskaya to see the exit of the military as well as the air force fly-over on their entrance to Red Square. In total more than 9,000 troops, 69 planes and a huge collection of armored vehicles, tanks, and massive anti-aircraft missile defense systems ensured that Moscovites and the rest of Russia will remember Victory Day 2009.
In scenes reminiscent of the end of the war military bands played around the city until all hours of the night. At Leningradsky station departing veterans and widows danced and celebrated with younger generations whilst loudly singing the national anthem. As trains departed, staff handed out flowers in recognition of the contributions made and loud cheers were heard across the many platforms. In a touching event it seemed to bond the generations of yesterday and today.
Preparations for the military parade began months ago with regular rehearsals in Alabino including the erection of a mock Red Square and Kremlin to ensure authenticity. Final dress rehearsals took place in Moscow on May 7 including a full practice of the air show. On display for the first time was the S-400 air defense system which is capable of intercepting airborne targets at ranges up to 400 kilometers (249 mi).
Following the official parades and ceremonies, Red Square and the the inner city was opened to the public, albeit under extreme security and an ever watching eye from Interior Ministry troops. During the afternoon there was an estimated crowed of over 100,000 which entered Red Square to admire the parade ground and decorations, including the official stand for the dignitaries.
Closing the festivities was a series of fireworks in fourteen different locations throughout Moscow including the grand display over the Kremlin and Red Square.