Russia and other former Soviet republics have been marking the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe with parades and celebrations.
In Russia, the anniversary of victory over German Nazi forces was marked on May 9 with a massive military parade on Moscow's Red Square.
After a morning of heavy rain, the Russian Air Force confirmed that its jets had taken off on flights to drive away rain clouds in what has become usual practice to clear the skies for major events in the Russian capital.
The parade started with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov inspecting the troops as military orchestral music echoed around Red Square. President Vladimir Putin, installed on May 7 for his third term as president, watched the pageant alongside new Prime Minister and former President Dmitry Medvedev.
The parade included scores of military vehicles and weapons, including the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, the Iskander-M theater ballistic missile, and the S-400 advanced missile-defense system.
Putin said in a speech at the parade that respect for international norms, state sovereignty, and each nation's independent policies are crucial to avoiding wars in the future.
Putin added that since the Soviet Union had suffered most in the aggression by Nazi Germany in the 1939-45 war, Russia would continue to assert its rights and defend its positions on international security issues.
"Russia conducts a consistent policy of strengthening security in the world," he said. "And we do have a great moral right to defend with principle and insistence our positions because it was our country that suffered the main blow of the Nazis."
Celebrations of Victory Day were held in other Russian towns and cities, as well as in other capitals of former Soviet republics.
Ahead of the Moscow Victory Day celebrations, police detained several dozen anti-Putin opposition activists, including protest leader Aleksei Navalny, early on May 9.
Moscow police said they have made almost 750 arrests since May 6, as opposition protesters defied a heavy police presence to stage demonstrations against Putin's inauguration to a third presidential term.
Putin on May 8 won parliamentary approval for his predecessor Medvedev to become prime minister, in accordance with a job swap agreement between the two men announced in September.
With reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and AFP