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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday presided over a huge military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, brushing off a snub by Western leaders over Ukraine.In what is seen as punishment for the Kremlin's meddling in Ukraine, Western countries led by Russia's World War II allies are boycotting the May 9 festivities, leaving Putin to mark the day in the company of the leaders of China, Cuba and other Moscow-friendly figures. In a finely choreographed parade, troops including soldiers sporting Soviet-era uniforms and rifles and a cavalry regiment marched across Red Square's famed cobbles as Putin, seated next to China's Xi Jinping, looked on.This year the parade also saw over a hundred military aircraft -- including long-range nuclear bombers -- swoop over Moscow in a spectacular fly-by.In recent years, victory in what Russians see as a 1941-1945 conflict -- known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War-- has been raised to cult status and critics accuse Putin of seeking to co-opt the country's history to boost his personal power.
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