Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Russia holds World War Two victory parade in coronavirus shadow


Russia is celebrating its biggest public holiday, Victory Day, with a military parade in Moscow that was meant to be held on 9 May.

President Vladimir Putin reluctantly postponed the big annual celebration because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is 75 years since the then USSR defeated Nazi Germany. World War Two cost more than 20 million Soviet lives.

Moscow's lockdown has eased this month, enabling the parade, featuring tanks and long-range missiles, to go ahead.

This year's event is special for President Putin because in a week's time Russia will hold a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments that are expected to pave the way for him to stay in power beyond 2024, when his current term expires.

The annual parade in Red Square is always an occasion for Mr Putin to harness Russian patriotic feelings, in a way reminiscent of Soviet times.

President Putin during the World War Two victory parade

He has restored Cold War-era Soviet symbols, and in 2008 he reintroduced heavy weaponry in the parade. The black-and-gold wartime St George's ribbon is especially ubiquitous.

Russian servicemen march in the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020

He has restored Cold War-era Soviet symbols, and in 2008 he reintroduced heavy weaponry in the parade. The black-and-gold wartime St George's ribbon is especially ubiquitous.

Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies - Britain, the US and USSR - on 8 May 1945. But traditionally Russia and the other ex-Soviet republics mark the victory on 9 May.

Holding the delayed event on 24 June commemorates the victory parade staged by the USSR back in 1945.

"Our duty is to remember that the Soviet people bore the brunt of fighting Nazism," the president said in his speech. "It was namely our people who were able to defeat the horrible, total evil."



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