Northwest Russians mark the anniversary of the Nazi surrender to the Allies in 1945.

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Soviet and Russian flags and songs lit up downtown streets Sunday afternoon for the third annual Victory Day in Seattle celebration. From Occidental Square to Seattle Center, hundreds of marchers carried photographs of family members who served in World War II.

Victory Day marks the surrender of Nazi Germany to Allied forces. It is starting to be more widely recognized in the U.S. and Canada, said Sergey Gladysh, 26, of Lynnwood, president of the Russian-American Cooperation Initiative.

“The further we go on in history the less veterans are left,” said Gladysh. A movement called the Immortal Regiment was started in Russia several years ago to honor veterans by holding a procession with their photographs. “It’s meant to be, not like a somber event … It’s meant to be a celebration,” Gladysh said.

Alexey Smirnov traveled from Portland to take part. All four of his great-grandfathers served in World War II — three of them were killed, and one lost a leg. “It’s kind of like Memorial Day plus celebration of the victory,” he said, carrying their photographs.

The Soviet Union lost more than 26 million people in World War II.

“This is also very important today in light of worsening relations,” said Gladysh. “Because it reminds us of a time in history when the U.S. and Russia were allies and we were fighting a common evil together.”