Russia to hold World War II victory parade on June 24

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A man poses for a photo with a red flag in front of the closed Red Square during the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 9, 2020. Victory Day is Russia’s most important secular holiday and this year’s observance had been expected to be especially large because it is the 75th anniversary, but the Red Square military parade and a mass procession called The Immortal Regiment were postponed as part of measures to stifle the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will hold a military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the defeat over Nazi Germany in World War II on June 24, after the celebration was postponed from May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made the announcement Tuesday during a video conference with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and ordered the ministry to start preparing for the event.

“We will do this … on the day of the legendary, historical victory parade in 1945,” Putin said.

The parade traditionally takes place every year on May 9, Russia’s most important holiday. Thousands gather in Moscow, including elderly veterans proudly wearing their medals. This year, it was supposed to highlight Russia’s exception role in history and on the world stage, with leaders like France’s Emmanuel Macron and India’s Narendra Modi promising to attend.

Last month, however, Putin postponed the commemorations, citing virus concerns.

“The risks linked to the epidemic that hasn’t yet reached its peak are extremely high, and that doesn’t give me the right to start preparations for the parade,” Russian president said in televised remarks on April 16.

On Tuesday, Putin noted that, “according to specialists,” Russia has passed the peak of the outbreak. He tasked Shoigu with ensuring safety at the event and minimizing risks of infection.

His comments came the same day that Russia reported a record daily spike of 174 deaths, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 3,807. Russia’s coronavirus caseload surpassed 360,000 — the third highest in the world after the U.S. and Brazil — with almost 9,000 new infections registered.

The country’s comparatively low mortality rate has raised questions among experts. Russian officials, however, vehemently deny manipulating any figures and attribute the low numbers to the effectiveness of the country’s lockdown measures.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreakand https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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