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On Victory Day, Putin Says Russian Soldiers Freed Europe

President Vladimir Putin has praised Russian soldiers as "the liberators of Europe" at a Victory Day parade with more than 11,000 soldiers and 100 military vehicles on Red Square.

"We will always remember that it was the Red Army that didn't allow the fascists to occupy the world," Putin said a speech at the parade Thursday.

He ended the speech by saying, "Glory to Russia!" a slogan often used by the nationalist politicians.

The parade was attended by veterans, government officials and foreign guests and chaired for the first time by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, whose Cabinet lost a senior member with the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov a day earlier, stood beside Putin at the event, but a Channel One anchorwomen didn't mention his name when both leaders shook hands with veterans.

"President Putin is shaking hands with veterans," she said.

Cadets from a Rostov region Cossacks military academy took part in the parade for the first time since 1945, a move that seemed to raise the profile of the Cossacks, who are now used to help police in patrolling streets in southern Russian regions. Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov has said Cossacks also would help maintain order in the city of Krasnodar.

Cossacks on horseback took part in the first Victory Parade in May 1945 to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Among the marchers were soldiers from a Kantemirovskaya tank division that bears the name of former Soviet leader Yury Andropov.

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