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Russia marks WWII victory commemoration with military parade

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MOSCOW — Russia on Monday staged a grand military parade through Moscow’s Red Square as part of nationwide celebrations to mark 71 years since the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Almost 10,000 troops, tanks and nuclear missile systems swept across Red Square’s cobblestones in front of President Vladimir Putin, senior officials and a handful of war veterans.

Putin addressed the troops, congratulating them on a holiday that traditionally unites Russians across political divides.

“We must overcome this evil, and Russia is open to uniting forces with other states, it is ready to work on the creation of a modern, non-aligned international security system,” Putin said.

The parade on Red Square also saw military aircraft, including Su-35 fighter jets Russia uses in its bombing campaign in war-torn Syria, swoop over Moscow in a resounding fly-by.

A smaller-scale parade was also held on Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Syria, where Moscow is conducting air strikes it says are aimed at extremist groups like the Islamic State.

May 9 festivities also took place in some former Soviet republics.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev sat beside Putin at the Moscow parade, but other foreign leaders were not among the honoured guests.

Western leaders last year snubbed invitations to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations over the Ukraine crisis, leaving Putin to mark the day in the company of the leaders of China, Cuba and other Moscow-friendly figures.

An estimated 27 million of the former Soviet Union’s soldiers and civilians were killed in World War II and the Red Army’s triumph in the war is viewed as a huge source of pride in Russia.

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

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