Putin postpones World War II victory parade due to virus

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 16, 2020. (Photo by Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the postponement of a Victory Day parade marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, citing the ongoing public health threat from the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking in televised remarks on Thursday, Putin said the festivities in Red Square would be held later this year.

The postponement follows Putin’s decision to put off a vote originally scheduled for this month on constitutional changes that would allow him to try to stay in office until 2036, if he desired.

The plebiscite and the Victory Day celebrations had topped the Kremlin political agenda for months, and a painful decision to delay them followed weeks of procrastination.

Putin has ordered a partial economic shutdown until April 30 and recently warned officials to prepare for the “most extraordinary” scenarios of the outbreak as the number of people infected in Russia has grown exponentially.