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Poroshenko Presides Over Low-Key Victory Day Events

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the capital, Kyiv, in ceremonies marking the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

For the first time ever, Ukraine officially celebrated the end of World War II in Europe on May 8, and not May 9, the date formally recognized by Russia.

But low-key celebrations were held in the Ukrainian capital on May 9, with military bands staging a March of Peace.

Poroshenko used the occasion to lash out at Russia, which Ukraine accuses of backing pro-Russian rebels in the east.

"It is the utmost cynicism to depict our country as a supposedly fascist state. It is done with the aim of justifying to the Russian people its own criminal action -- Russia's aggression against Ukraine," Poroshenko said.

In the rebel-held city of Donetsk, tanks and rocket systems were on display as celebrations took place there.

Some 1,500 separatist fighters marched through the rebel-held city clutching red Soviet flags and several portraits of Stalin.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax