efe-epaMoscow

Citizens, soldiers, veterans and politicians across former members of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc came out to celebrate Victory Day on Tuesday, marking the 72nd anniversary of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender that ended World War II in Europe.

Parades from Bucharest to Bishkek and from Moscow to Tbilisi laid on a mixture of nostalgia, military might, solemnity and a celebration of diverse cultures while the nations paid tribute to the Soviet Union's victory over Nazism, as witnessed by epa.

For modern Russians, Victory Day is one of the most important celebrations of the year, where they unite as a nation and feel pride in the achievements of their forefathers _ a day where family is foremost in their minds.

The annual procession in Moscow, the heart of former Soviet power, was a display of contemporary military strength in the Russian capital's iconic Red Square, as captured by epa.

Members of Russia's armed forces marched across the cobbles in unison, followed by tanks and armored units, while huge banners emblazoned with the hammer and sickle symbolic of Communism adorned the State Historical Museum as a reminder of the Russian Federation's history in the 20th century.

While active servicemen wound through the square, the nation's president, Vladimir Putin, took time to meet and greet some of the Red Army veterans, many of whom actively helped put an end to the Nazi regime.

Almost 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) away, in Bishkek, the capital of mountainous Kyrgyzstan, hundreds of locals paraded through Victory Square holding aloft portraits of family members who fought in the Great Patriotic War, as it was known in the USSR (and still is in most former Soviet nations).

The parade in Bishkek was filled with nostalgic Red Army uniforms and traditional Kyrgyz clothing going hand-in-hand.

In one epa image, a highly-decorated veteran sporting a Soviet Army hat displayed a decades-old army portrait of himself as a young recruit.

There were celebrations in the Caucasian nation of Georgia, too, where locals danced in the capital Tbilisi's Victory Park; the vibrant bouquets of flowers were matched only by the multicolored war medals pinned on the veterans' jackets.

But, offering a more somber scene, an epa correspondent in the Georgian capital witnessed an elderly man stop by the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier wearing a portrait of Joseph Stalin _ the ethnic Georgian leader of the Soviet Union throughout World War II and until his death in 1953.

In Romania, which was allied with Nazi Germany until the final year of World War II and became a socialist state after the conflict, members of the presidential honor guard held a ceremony in front of the military academy in the capital Bucharest.

There, young soldiers doffed their caps towards the statue in memory of the nation's war dead.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the Victory Parade in Kiev was temporarily interrupted by scuffles between participants in the procession and a group of far-right nationalists who threw smoke bombs at the crowd.

Tensions in Ukraine have escalated since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and a pro-Russian insurgency took power in the east, triggering a civil war in that region.

The march continued with heavy police presence.

In Israel, where a number of the population have Russian heritage, relatives of veterans paraded through an area of Jerusalem to celebrate the anniversary of the Allied victory against the forces of fascism.

Hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews emigrated to Israel following World War II, many of whom had fought for the Red Army against Nazi troops.

The Soviet Union lasted for almost five decades following the fall of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and the subsequent end of the war.

Contemporary post-Soviet states include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.