Russia celebrates Victory Day today, a huge celebration of the Soviet triumph in the Second World War that has become something of a national rallying point during Vladimir Putin’s presidency.
Tanks and missiles will roll down central Moscow’s streets on their way to Red Square this morning, while fighter jets will perform a flypast and thousands of troops will march in formation, overseen by Mr Putin himself.
While all Russians are rightly proud of their country’s wartime history, for many Muscovites the parade is more of a hassle than a celebration. For several weeks now, central Moscow has experienced gridlock as the tanks roll down central Tverskaya Street rehearsing for the big day, and dozens of roads are closed off to allow the military hardware into and out of the city.
Drivers sat in traffic for hours during the final rehearsal for the main parade, which took place on Tuesday. Even pedestrians were affected, with one of the main bridges across the Moscow River completely closed off, forcing people on foot to take a 30-minute detour using other bridges. Workers in offices craned their necks out of the windows to watch the bizarre spectacle of a column of tanks trundling down a major shopping street, and hear the loud roar of planes flying in formation overhead.
Today, the city will again come to a standstill as the parade takes place, this time for real. Victory Day is a public holiday in Russia and the country’s few remaining veterans will be out in their uniforms and proudly displaying their medals.