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Immortal Regiment 2017: Russia honors the fallen in the Great Patriotic War

The May 9 march involved nearly 8 million people nationwide, and the number continues to rise every year.
By Nikolai Litovkin, Anastasiya Karagodina, RBTH
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Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS

The March of the Immortal Regiment is a public act of remembrance dedicated to relatives who shed blood in WW2 and the Great Patriotic War.
Immortal regiment march

Reuters

On May 9, the day when Russia marks the end of the war with Nazi Germany, the children and grandchildren of veterans of the Great Patriotic War line the streets of Russia holding portraits of their relatives.
Immortal regiment march

Nikolay Khizhnyak/RIA Novosti

They march in unison as a mark of respect for the heroism of their families.
Immortal regiment march

Vitaly Nevar/TASS

“It is vital to remember the people who gave their lives for victory over fascism, and not in isolation but all together,” a participant in the procession explains their decision to take part in the rally.
Immortal regiment march

Vladimir Astapkovich/RIA Novosti

Despite the wind and rain, more than 850,000 people marched through the streets of the Russian capital under the banner of the Immortal Regiment—a new record.
Immortal regiment march

Sergey Pyatakov/RIA Novosti

Some were dressed in Soviet military uniform from the Great Patriotic War.
Immortal regiment march

Vladimir Astapkovich/RIA Novosti

During the procession, people sang songs from the war years, including “Sacred War,” “Katyusha” and others.
Immortal regiment march

Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti

Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the event in Moscow for the third year. The head of state appeared on Red Square with a picture of his father, a frontline soldier.
Immortal regiment march

Alexei Nikolsky/TASS

“It was a last-minute decision. I didn’t know if I’d be able to go ahead with it. In the end, I chose a photo of my father that was close by. It wasn’t planned. It is not my wish for the heartfelt outpourings of every person and the entire nation to become bureaucratized,” said the president during his first march in the Immortal Regiment two years ago.
Immortal regiment march

Iliya Pitalev/RIA Novosti

In the words of the president, the value of the Immortal Regiment is that it was born in the hearts of the people, not the offices of government.
Immortal regiment march

Reuters

“It shows the respect that we have for the generations that defended the country,” Putin underlined.
Immortal regiment march

Aleksandr Gal'perin/RIA Novosti

The first March of the Immortal Regiment took place in 2012 in Tomsk (3600 km east of Moscow). It grew so popular that a couple of years later the president himself joined in.
Immortal regiment march

Donat Sorokin/TASS

At the same time, the event is starting to draw criticism. According to some, the meaning of the Immortal Regiment is becoming diluted, and the sincere desire to pay tribute to the memory of fallen family members is turning into a flash mob.
Immortal regiment march

Sergey Pyatakov/RIA Novosti

According to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, 7.8 million people marched through the streets of Russia alone, breaking the record of previous years.
Immortal regiment march

Maksim Bogodvid/RIA Novosti

“This war touched everyone. All families have mixed feelings, but it’s a celebration that we are proud of,” said one of the participants.

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