Russian President Vladimir Putin led a public procession in Moscow dedicated to the "Immortal Regiments" — an annual homage to the generation that lost more than 20 million people in the fight against Nazis, the RBC newspaper reported Monday.
The event marks the 71st anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II.
After a massive Victory Day military parade on Red Square, Putin led a column of several hundred thousand people. He carried a photograph of his father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, who fought in World War II and was severely wounded, the state news agency TASS reported. The procession began at the Dinamo metro station and ended on Red Square.
The Immortal Regiment grassroots movement was originally launched in the Siberian city of Tomsk in 2012 with 6,000 participants taking part in the first procession that year. Soon after, Russian officials took up the idea and set up a copycat movement called "The Immortal Regiment of Russia." The event officially became all-Russian in 2015.
More than 500,000 people participated in the event, according to the Moscow police, the state news agency Interfax reported Monday.
The procession also took place in other Russian cities — the largest was held in Novosibirsk, with some 250,000 people in attendance. On the Crimean Peninsula, the Prosecutor General Natalya Poklonskaya took part in the procession. She carried a photograph of Tsar Nicholas II, who was killed in Yekaterinburg, together with his family, soon after the 1917 October Revolution.
Putin also led the Immortal Regiment procession in Moscow last year. The Russian Interior Ministry reported that in 2015, over 12 million people participated in the event throughout the country.