Russia’s Putin urges unity as he presides over slimmed down Victory Day

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MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin told Russians yesterday they are invincible when they stand together as he presided over celebrations of victory in World War Two that were slimmed down because of the coronavirus outbreak.

His speech, beamed to the nation, sent a message of unity as the Kremlin tries to contain the coronavirus — and Putin tries to keep his ratings high — after Russia passed Germany and France to register the fifth-highest number of cases globally.

Victory Day, which marks the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, is one of Russia’s most revered public events and provides Putin with a platform to promote the patriotism which is a cornerstone of his popular support.

But the coronavirus outbreak forced him to postpone the main highlight, a huge annual parade on Moscow’s Red Square that showcases Moscow’s most sophisticated military hardware. “Our veterans fought for life and against death, and we will always try to live up to their spirit of unanimity and resilience,” Putin said after laying a bouquet of red roses at the Eternal Flame war memorial near the Kremlin. —Agencies

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