Coronavirus: Russia marks WW2 Victory Day with subdued celebrations

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Media captionThe BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports from an empty Red Square, in Moscow

Russia has marked 75 years since victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two despite cancelling its traditional military parade because of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a subdued celebration, President Vladimir Putin laid roses at the Eternal Flame war memorial.

Unable to attend public processions, people uploaded pictures of family members and told war stories online.

On Saturday Russia recorded another rise of 10,000 cases of coronavirus. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Normally huge crowds gather for Victory Day celebrations in Russia and former Soviet countries - this was Moscow last year

The huge commemorations are important features of the calendars of former Soviet countries, which together lost around 26 million people in World War Two.

Fighter jets flew over Moscow, leaving a trail of colours of the Russian flag, and a column of soldiers marched past President Putin at the walls of the Kremlin.

State television broadcast a replay of last year's Red Square parade. Image copyright EPA Image caption Victory Day parades went ahead in Minsk, Belarus

But in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has denied coronavirus is a national threat, crowds of thousands attended Victory Day events.

Mr Lukashenko attended a parade in Minsk wearing a military uniform and said it was unacceptable for the country to think about cancelling the event.

  • Belarus parade defies pandemic
  • Europe marks VE Day amid coronavirus lockdown
  • Russian hospital staff 'working without masks'

Last month President Putin cancelled the huge Victory Day parade that sees columns of soldiers, veterans, historical Red Army vehicles, and modern military hardware parade through Moscow's Red Square. Image copyright EPA Image caption Unable to attend processions, people shared pictures of family members online or at home

On Saturday Mr Putin said Russia will "certainly celebrate this anniversary extensively and solemnly, as usual", pledging the processions will be held at a later date.

Parts of Russia have been on lockdown since late March but the country now has the fifth-highest rate of infections in the world with almost 200,000 confirmed cases. Image copyright EPA Image caption President Vladimir Putin laid a wreath on the Eternal Flame war memorial in Moscow

A rise of 10,000 cases has been reported daily in the past week.

In a televised address on Saturday Mr Putin said, "Our veterans fought for life, against death. And we will always be equal to their unity and endurance"

"We know and firmly believe that we are invincible when we stand together."

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