Russian President Vladimir Putin lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Moscow, Russia, May 8, 2012. Putin, the 59-year-old political veteran, was sworn in as Russian president on May 7, unfolding his third term in the Kremlin following two consecutive terms from 2000 to 2008. [Li Yong/Xinhua]
Newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Tuesday, the eve of Russia's Victory Day, when the country celebrates victory over Nazi Germany.
Putin, on his first day back as president, spread the wreath's ribbon and bows before the Eternal Fire at the monument in the Alexandrovsky Garden near the Kremlin and paid homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Great Patriotic War.
Government officials, leaders of all political parties and representatives of veterans also participated in the ceremony, laying flowers at the tomb.
The presidential orchestra played the Russian anthem and a guard of honor marched past the tomb.
The Eternal Fire celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. On May 7, 1967, a torch was lit in Leningrad (today's St. Petersburg) from the Eternal Fire on the Field of Mars and transported by relay to then newly built Moscow memorial.
Wednesday marks the 67th Victory Day.