Moscow, 9 May 2000 (RFE/RL) - Tens of thousands of people gathered in Russia and the former Soviet Republics today for parades and celebrations marking the 55th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. Russian President Vladimir Putin told World War II veterans in Moscow that the "heroic tradition" of the Soviet armed forces still provides an example for the present day.
"With you, we got used to winning. This habit got in our blood, and became a guarantee, not only of military victories, and it will again help us in times of peace."
Thousands of soldiers, veterans, and workers paraded past President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarus. And in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, President Imomali Rakhmonov reminded crowds that the defeat of the Nazis was an achievement by everyone in the former Soviet Union.
But the leader in neighboring Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, limited the occasion to a wreath-laying ceremony. And the anniversary celebrations were modest in other former Soviet republics, including the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Commemorations in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv were the mildest in memory.