Russian troops marched down Bishkek’s main thoroughfare on May 9 for the first time since Kyrgyzstan’s independence from the Soviet Union. They were there to celebrate a common victory in World War II, a memory that some say is being manipulated by Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin.
The parade in Bishkek was one of dozens across the former Soviet Union commemorating the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in what is known throughout the former Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War.
President Almazbek Atambayev was in Moscow attending a celebration on Red Square with other Putin allies. But his absence – and a heavy rain – did not stop thousands of Kyrgyzstanis from gathering on Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square for Victory Day festivities.
More than 2,000 troops took part alongside dozens of military vehicles. Helicopters from the Kyrgyz Air Force performed a flyover. In a post-Soviet first, according to Russian state media, the parade included 75 Russian soldiers from the Kant Airbase outside Bishkek.
Two days earlier, as our photo story shows, participants in a dress rehearsal enjoyed better weather.
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Tamas Paczai is a Hungarian photographer currently based in Kyrgyzstan.