Moscow, 9 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russia today commemorated the 56th anniversary of the end of World War II with a military parade that included, among others, soldiers that fought in Chechnya. The 30-minute parade in Moscow's Red Square was opened by recently appointed Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Some 5,000 soldiers, paratroopers, sailors, and pilots paraded by in what is the traditional main official event in Russia's Victory Day celebrations.
President Vladimir Putin, standing with other officials at the foot of the Lenin mausoleum, spoke about what he views as the lessons of World War II.
"We won the most just war of the 20th century, a war of liberation, for the sovereignty and the independence of our homeland. We need its lessons today. They teach us to find a balance between force and reason. (They) warn that collaborating with violence, that collaborating with extremism, leads to horrible tragedies."
In Tbilisi, Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and noted the contribution of the Georgian people in the war effort.
Millions of Soviets died in World War II.