President Zeman Says Will Attend Postponed Victory Day Celebrations in Russia

Prague Morning

Czech President Miloš Zeman will attend celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s Victory over Nazi Germany, which was scheduled to take place on May 9 but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus, as Zeman himself told Radio Frekvence 1 on Sunday.

“I accepted President Putin’s invitation,” Zeman pointed out. “I suppose that the celebrations will take place in September instead of May 9.

“It would be logical because World War II ended in September, and it was the war in Europe that came to an end on May 9,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that the Victory Day parade and the Immortal Regiment march, initially set for May 9, would take place later in the year after the coronavirus threat is over.

The “risks associated with the epidemic, whose peak has not passed yet, are extremely high,” Putin said. “This does not give me the right to begin preparations for the parade and other mass events now.”

Victory Day is the most important public event remaining in Russia’s calendar. Western leaders have snubbed the parade since 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US presidential elections and the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018 have made relations even chillier.

Russia holds a military parade on Red Square with soldiers, tanks and intercontinental ballistic missiles and sees hundreds of thousands march with pictures of their relatives in a new tradition called the Immortal Regiment.

The number of Russian coronavirus cases has been accelerating in the last week.

There have been 47,121 cases of infections and 405 deaths, according to official figures, but the real number is believed to be higher.

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