People across Russia are lighting "memory candles" to mark the 74th anniversary of the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
More than 200 citizens in the Far Eastern region of Sakhalin gathered at 3 a.m. to begin the national commemoration, which will proceed across Russia to the far western region of Kaliningrad as June 22 unfolds.
The acting governor of Sakhalin, Oleg Kozhemyako, told participants that the candles are a reminder "of the terrible tragedy that happened 74 years ago and of how we must love and defend Russia."
On June 22, 1941, forces of Nazi Germany and its allies launched a surprise invasion of the Soviet Union and began nearly four years of brutal warfare that left more than 20 million Soviet citizens dead.
Based on reporting by Interfax and RIA-Novosti