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A number of official ceremonies and party meetings
A number of official ceremonies and party meetings were held in Moscow on Saturday, a public holiday throughout Russia, which celebrates Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall on Saturday morning. The ceremony also involved Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, presidential administration chief Sergei Sobyanin, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, the speakers of both houses of the country's parliament, MPs, and WWII veterans.

In a separate ceremony, the monument was visited by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and members of the municipal government and legislature.

The country's Communist party has held a rally in central Moscow, with some 1,000 supporters taking part. Originally planning to mark the 90th anniversary of the Red Army, organized by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War of 1918, the gathering held a rally in support of Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist leader and a presidential candidate.

Another presidential candidate, ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, held a meeting on another square in central Moscow.

Moscow will for the first time see a computer-designed fireworks display to be performed at 14 sites at 9:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. GMT). Unique computer technology developed at Russian companies will model the necessary pattern and height of fireworks.

Established as Red Army Day in 1922, the holiday was called Soviet Army and Navy Day from 1949 to 1993. Renamed Defender of the Fatherland Day in 1995, the holiday has been a day off since 2002.

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