The veterans who sat next to Vladimir Putin at the May 9 Victory Parade on Red Square did not take part in WWII frontline battles against Nazi Germany, according to a report by independent investigative outlet Agentstvo. Both men were identified as former members of the NKVD and KGB – the Soviet Union’s security services.
Agentstvo (“The Agency”) identified 98-year-old Yuri Dvoikin as sitting to Putin’s right. He enlisted as a volunteer in the army in 1942, but did not make it to the front line. In 1944, after graduating from sniper school, he was sent to Ukraine’s Lviv region as part of the NKVD “to carry out operations to eliminate the nationalist insurgency in Western Ukraine.” The NKVD was the Soviet Union’s interior ministry, one of the predecessors of the KGB.
88-year-old Gennady Zaitsev, born in 1934, sat to the Russian president’s left. He was drafted for military service in 1953, after which he stayed in the army and joined the KGB six years later. In 1968 Zaitsev took part in the invasion of Warsaw Pact armies into Czechoslovakia to suppress anti-Soviet protests. He led a group of the 7th Directorate of the KGB in Operation Danube [the codename given to the invasion – The Insider], and the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Prague was seized under his command. In the 1970s, Zaitsev headed the anti-terrorist group Alfa.
As noted by Agentstvo, this year's May 9 parade on Moscow’s Red Square featured the lowest recorded number of military personnel since 2008. Several military formations that took part in the parade last year were absent, such as: The 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, the 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motorized Rifle Division, the 27th Independent Guards Sevastopol Motorized Rifle Brigade, and the 45th Independent Engineer Brigade. Not a single modern tank appeared in the parade.