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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Calls for Unity on Victory Day

MTA group of World War II veterans dancing to the strains of wartime songs in front of the Bolshoi Theater during Victory Day festivities on Friday.<br><a href="/photos/photo-essay/2003-05-12/page1.html" target="PhESSAY" onclick="'','PhESSAY','w
Hundreds of thousands of people on Friday commemorated the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany 58 years ago, while more deadly violence in Chechnya cast a shadow over the Victory Day holiday.

Addressing a military parade on Red Square, President Vladimir Putin made an explicit link between terrorism and Nazism and called for "the priceless experience of unity" that helped defeat Nazism in 1945.

"A new, global and very serious peril has emerged in the world -- international terrorism. To counteract it, the efforts of all civilized countries must be united," Putin, standing near Lenin's mausoleum, told 5,000 troops and cadets lined up on the gray cobblestones of Red Square.

He paid tribute to World War II veterans, hundreds of whom -- with medals gleaming on their chests -- came to see the parade.

In a veiled reproach to the United States and its war on Iraq, Putin said, "We should not forget why fascists assumed the right to decide the fate of the world and the fates of other countries and peoples, why they got the false idea of considering themselves history makers and hoped to escape punishment."

As Putin spoke, news broke that a bomb had exploded in Grozny, killing one Russian serviceman and wounding two more. The bomb, hidden in a pile of debris, detonated about 40 meters from the main entrance to the Dynamo Stadium, where a parade of Interior Ministry officers was to have been held later in the day. The parade in Grozny was cancelled. The military, however, went ahead with a parade on its Khankala base outside the Chechen capital.

Russian officials called the Grozny blast a terrorist attack -- the same language they have used to label other attacks by Chechen rebels.

A spokesman for the federal troops in Chechnya, Ilya Shabalkin, said the military also had averted a suicide bombing of Grozny's Victory Day parade. He said a female Chechen rebel was detained Thursday who admitted under interrogation that she was acting under orders from rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov to stage a suicide bombing.

A powerful bomb ripped through a Victory Day parade in the Dagestani town of Kaspiisk last year, killing 45 people. Investigators have accused rebel warlord Rappani Khalilov of masterminding the attack.

In Moscow, several groups of veterans waving red banners marched with Communist leaders along downtown streets after the Red Square parade and called for the ouster of the Cabinet.

Well over a half-million Moscow residents celebrated Victory Day by heading outdoors, according to City Hall. Police told Itar-Tass on Saturday that more than 4,500 people were detained Friday, most of them for drunk and disorderly conduct.

Festivities in the western Siberian city of Omsk also were tarnished by a deadly incident. As residents walked along the city's main street after a fireworks show, a quarrel between several young men ended up with one throwing a hand grenade. One man was killed and 11 were wounded in the blast, Interfax reported Saturday.

Most Soviet-era holidays, including May Day and Revolution Day (now called the Day of National Reconciliation), are considered little more than a day off work. But Victory Day remains an important and meaningful holiday for 83 percent of the population, according to a recent survey by the Public Opinion Foundation.

The survey also showed there is a growing number of young people who do not share this opinion. Some 22 percent of Russians aged 18 to 35 said they did not celebrate Victory Day, giving reasons such as, "I was not in the war" and "My relatives did not fight in it."