Restrictions on public gatherings put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus in the Russian capital may soon be scrapped ahead of a series of planned events marking the defeat of Nazi Germany, local media reported on Thursday.
Three sources close to President Vladimir Putin allegedly told the RBK news network that preparations were being made to celebrate Victory Day on May 9 in pre-pandemic style, with large-scale processions. “For now, we are working on the assumption that [the planned events] will take place as usual, the officials said. “But the final decision will be made closer to case the and based on the epidemiological situation.”
The annual March of the Immortal Regiment, held in Moscow to commemorate all those who fought in WWII or supported the war effort from home, is reportedly set to go ahead. Elena Tsunaeva, co-chair of the organizing committee, told RBK that “we are preparing for the face-to-face march, and we very much hope that will work out.” She added that an online variant would be developed as a backup, and could be made available alongside real-life celebrations.
The Victory Parade, featuring soldiers and military hardware, is billed to take place, but the question remains whether spectators will be able to attend. Typically, the events attract crowds of thousands of people, with many more watching from nearby cafes, restaurants and bars. Simultaneous processions are also held in cities across the country.
In 2020, because of the pandemic, the parade was postponed from May 9 to June 24, with President Vladimir Putin attending alongside war veterans and foreign leaders. For spectators, the events that mark the victory over fascism were broadcast online.
In February, Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, announced that the pandemic was “in decline” in the capital, with the number of positive tests for Covid-19 and hospital admissions both falling throughout much of the country. Almost a quarter of cases had been detected in Moscow since the start of the pandemic, despite the city only accounting for 10% of the population.
Earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told journalists that more than 200,000 deaths linked to the virus had been recorded across the country in the space of a year. Since a peak of almost 30,000 cases a day in December, the daily diagnosis count has fallen sharply in the past three months.
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