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Putin oversees Red Square Victory Day parade

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks between soldiers  at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow (© 2009 AFP)

Thousands of Russian soldiers on Wednesday marched across Red Square watched over by newly-inaugurated President Vladimir Putin to mark the 67 years since the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Over 14,000 servicemen in all were to march across the famous cobbles in the annual Victory Day parade which was to also include Russian missiles and other military hardware in a display of Moscow’s military might.

The parade started with Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov inspecting the troops as rousing military orchestral music echoed round Red Square. Putin watched from the stands alongside his new Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Putin on Tuesday won parliamentary approval for his predecessor Medvedev to become prime minister, in accordance with a job swap agreement first announced in September.

After a morning of heavy rain, the Russian air force confirmed its jets had taken to the skies to drive away rain clouds in what has become usual practice for major events in the Russian capital.

Air force spokesman Vladimir Drik told the ITAR-TASS news agency that four planes had taken off at around 6:00 am (0200 GMT) with special cloud-seeding chemicals on board.

Signature : MOSCOW (AFP)

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