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Belarus Victory Day parade upstages Putin’s Russia as 5,000 troops march in country

Belarus has upstaged Vladimir Putin’s Russia with a Victory Day parade including 5,000 marching troops, as the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko claims coronavirus is a mass ‘psychosis’ that can be cured by vodka and saunas.

Hundreds of Belarusians, including Second World War veterans, attended a church ceremony in Minsk that marked the 75th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany. 

Many chose not to wear face masks, despite the growing coronavirus outbreak in the country. The 9.5-million ex-Soviet nation has reported more than 20,000 confirmed cases, with surges after mass public events, such as Easter services.

Meanwhile, Putin has led low-key memorials to mark the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War on Saturday, as the coronavirus outbreak has forced the nation to scale back celebrations seen as boosting support for the Kremlin.    

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pictured attending the country’s Victory Day parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Minsk, Belarus

Belarusian soldiers, none wearing face masks, taking part in the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus. Hundreds of citizens, including Second World War veterans, attended a church ceremony in the capital city to mark the anniversary

Belarusian soldiers, none wearing face masks, taking part in the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus. Hundreds of citizens, including Second World War veterans, attended a church ceremony in the capital city to mark the anniversary

Belarusian members of the military captured on a slow shutter speed taking part in the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus on Saturday. Lukashenko previously claimed coronavirus is a mass 'psychosis' that can be cured by vodka and saunas

Belarusian members of the military captured on a slow shutter speed taking part in the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus on Saturday. Lukashenko previously claimed coronavirus is a mass ‘psychosis’ that can be cured by vodka and saunas

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pictured delivering a speech at the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus. He told veterans: 'We chose our own path, and I’m convinced today that we did the right thing'

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pictured delivering a speech at the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus. He told veterans: ‘We chose our own path, and I’m convinced today that we did the right thing’

Citizens, many elderly, and veterans pictured sitting close together and not wearing face masks as they attend the Victory Day parade in Minsk. Belarus remains one of the few countries that hadn’t imposed a lockdown during the pandemic

Citizens, many elderly, and veterans pictured sitting close together and not wearing face masks as they attend the Victory Day parade in Minsk. Belarus remains one of the few countries that hadn’t imposed a lockdown during the pandemic

Lukashenko has previously told citizens to ‘wash [their] insides’ with vodka and ‘go to the banya’, a Russian-styled sauna, to fight the infection.

Belarus remains one of the few countries that hasn’t imposed a lockdown or restricted public events despite recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).

‘We chose our own path, and I’m convinced today that we did the right thing,’ Lukashenko told veterans. 

He assured veterans who attended the parade on Saturday that ‘nothing will happen’ to them.

In a televised speech towards the start of the outbreak, he said: ‘There shouldn’t be any panic. You just have to work, especially now, in a village. Tractors will cure everyone. The field heals everyone. 

Go to the banya [a Russian-style sauna]. Two or three times a week will do you good. When you come out of the sauna, not only wash your hands, but also your insides with 100 millilitres [of vodka].’

Belarusian soldiers taking part in the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus. The country's President, Lukashenko, assured veterans who attended the parade on Saturday that 'nothing will happen' to them, despite the pandemic

Belarusian soldiers taking part in the Victory Day parade in Minsk, Belarus. The country’s President, Lukashenko, assured veterans who attended the parade on Saturday that ‘nothing will happen’ to them, despite the pandemic

Adults and children stand closely together as they line the streets of Minsk in Belarus during the Victory Day parade, with some wearing fade masks and waving flags to commemorate the 75th anniversary

Adults and children stand closely together as they line the streets of Minsk in Belarus during the Victory Day parade, with some wearing fade masks and waving flags to commemorate the 75th anniversary

Belarusian soldiers taking part in the Victory Day parade. In a televised speech towards the start of the outbreak claimed coronavirus is a 'mass psychosis' that can be cured by saunas and vodka

Belarusian soldiers taking part in the Victory Day parade. In a televised speech towards the start of the outbreak claimed coronavirus is a ‘mass psychosis’ that can be cured by saunas and vodka

Citizens and veterans pictured sitting in the crowd as they attend the parade. The 9.5-million ex-Soviet nation has reported more than 20,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with surges after mass public events

Citizens and veterans pictured sitting in the crowd as they attend the parade. The 9.5-million ex-Soviet nation has reported more than 20,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with surges after mass public events

Lukashenko, who has ruled his country since 1994, earlier denounced travel bans and border closures being used by neighbouring countries as ‘utter stupidity’.

‘It’s better to die standing that to live on your knees,’ he added.

With foreign sports networks having little to show and few other options for sports betting, Lukashenko previously said the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to put the country’s soccer league on display.

‘I look at Russia and some people there are winning a lot on bets, because beforehand they didn’t really know our teams,’ Lukashenko said, adding: ‘Someone’s losing, someone’s winning. It’s all useful.’

With infections rising in Russia, Putin last month postponed the highlight of Victory Day celebrations, a massive parade on Red Square that showcases Moscow’s most sophisticated military hardware, to an unspecified date.

The Russian leader has described Victory Day celebrations as sacred to Russians but said a big public event was too risky during the pandemic. 

Russian military helicopters fly over the almost empty Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday during a flypast to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in the Second World War. The parade was cancelled during the virus outbreak

Russian military helicopters fly over the almost empty Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday during a flypast to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in the Second World War. The parade was cancelled during the virus outbreak

Servicemen wear face masks at a wreath laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame in Slavy (Glory) Square, marking the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Military parades were postponed amid the crisis

Servicemen wear face masks at a wreath laying ceremony at the Eternal Flame in Slavy (Glory) Square, marking the 75th anniversary of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Military parades were postponed amid the crisis

Servicemen take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Vladivostok - the City of Military Glory stele, for the 75th anniversary. With infections rising, Putin postponed the massive parade on Red Square - the highlight of the celebrations

Servicemen take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Vladivostok – the City of Military Glory stele, for the 75th anniversary. With infections rising, Putin postponed the massive parade on Red Square – the highlight of the celebrations

Citizens and servicemen hold portraits of their relatives who fought in the Second World War during an event to mark the 75th anniversary held by the Vladivostok - City of Military Glory stele. The outbreak has forced Russia to scale back celebrations

Citizens and servicemen hold portraits of their relatives who fought in the Second World War during an event to mark the 75th anniversary held by the Vladivostok – City of Military Glory stele. The outbreak has forced Russia to scale back celebrations

The Perekop training ship, one of the Smolny class training ships built for the Soviet Navy in the late 1970s, by Leitenanta Shmidta Embankment on Victory Day. Later on Saturday, Putin will lay flowers at the Eternal Flame war memorial

The Perekop training ship, one of the Smolny class training ships built for the Soviet Navy in the late 1970s, by Leitenanta Shmidta Embankment on Victory Day. Later on Saturday, Putin will lay flowers at the Eternal Flame war memorial

Vladivostok Mayor Oleg Gumenyuk, Primorye Territory Governor Kozhemyako's wife Irina Gerasimenko and Primorye Territory Governor Oleg Kozhemyako (left to right) during a flower laying ceremony at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet

Vladivostok Mayor Oleg Gumenyuk, Primorye Territory Governor Kozhemyako’s wife Irina Gerasimenko and Primorye Territory Governor Oleg Kozhemyako (left to right) during a flower laying ceremony at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet

In previous years, Putin basked in national pride as he watched Russian tanks rumble across the square with world leaders by his side.

But as of Friday, Russia had reported 187,859 coronavirus cases and 1,723 deaths.  

In a slimmed-down celebration, Putin will lay flowers at the Eternal Flame war memorial outside the Kremlin walls and deliver a speech.   

Fireworks will be let off across Russia as much of the country remains in lockdown, the Defence Ministry has said. 

One servicemen salutes at a ceremony at the Eternal Flame in Slavy (Glory) Square in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, as five other servicemen stand further back while holding a wreath and wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic

One servicemen salutes at a ceremony at the Eternal Flame in Slavy (Glory) Square in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, as five other servicemen stand further back while holding a wreath and wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic

A woman holds portraits of her relatives who fought in the Second World War, on Victory Day in Novosibirsk, Russia. President Putin postponed military parades and celebrations last month, on April 6, due to the coronavirus pandemic

A woman holds portraits of her relatives who fought in the Second World War, on Victory Day in Novosibirsk, Russia. President Putin postponed military parades and celebrations last month, on April 6, due to the coronavirus pandemic

Primorye Territory Governor Kozhemyako's wife Irina Gerasimenko (centre) lays flowers at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet memorial complex in Vladivostok, Russia, to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Second World War

Primorye Territory Governor Kozhemyako’s wife Irina Gerasimenko (centre) lays flowers at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet memorial complex in Vladivostok, Russia, to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Second World War 

A pilot by a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter ahead of taking part in a Victory Day air show, marking the 75th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, at an airfield in the town of Klin

A pilot by a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter ahead of taking part in a Victory Day air show, marking the 75th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, at an airfield in the town of Klin

Admiral Sergei Avakyants, commander of the Pacific Fleet, the Russian Navy fleet in the Pacific Ocean, salutes while wearing uniform during a flower laying ceremony at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet memorial complex

Admiral Sergei Avakyants, commander of the Pacific Fleet, the Russian Navy fleet in the Pacific Ocean, salutes while wearing uniform during a flower laying ceremony at the Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet memorial complex 

A serviceman wears a face mask as he stands besides flags on the Perekop training ship, one of the Smolny class training ships, by Leitenanta Shmidta Embankment in St Petersburg on Victory Day

A serviceman wears a face mask as he stands besides flags on the Perekop training ship, one of the Smolny class training ships, by Leitenanta Shmidta Embankment in St Petersburg on Victory Day

A Russian serviceman holds a portrait of his relative who fought in the Second World War in Lenin Square, Novosibirsk, Russia, on Victory Day. Putin has accused Russia's detractors of diminishing the Soviet war effort

A Russian serviceman holds a portrait of his relative who fought in the Second World War in Lenin Square, Novosibirsk, Russia, on Victory Day. Putin has accused Russia’s detractors of diminishing the Soviet war effort

The Russian air force will carry out fly-pasts over more than 47 cities, as well as at its military base in Syria.

It will showcase a full array of jets and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighters, the country’s most advanced warplanes.

Public processions commemorating Soviet participants in the war that are normally held on May 9 have been moved online, with people uploading pictures of family members and telling their war stories. 

It follows a recent poll giving Putin his lowest approval rating in more than two decades and the country’s economy is slipping into a deep downturn. 

A portrait of a Second World War soldier attached to a window in the cockpit of a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter ahead of a Victory Day air show taking off from an airfield in the town of Klin, in the Moscow region of Russia

A portrait of a Second World War soldier attached to a window in the cockpit of a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter ahead of a Victory Day air show taking off from an airfield in the town of Klin, in the Moscow region of Russia

A man holds an umbrella while walking on a bridge past red banners devoted to the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during the Second World War, in downtown Moscow on Saturday

A man holds an umbrella while walking on a bridge past red banners devoted to the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during the Second World War, in downtown Moscow on Saturday

Pilots by a Mil Mi-26 helicopter ahead of taking part in a Victory Day air show marking the 75th anniversary, at an airfield in the town of Klin, in Moscow. The Russian air force will carry out fly-pasts over more than 47 cities and its military base in Syria

Pilots by a Mil Mi-26 helicopter ahead of taking part in a Victory Day air show marking the 75th anniversary, at an airfield in the town of Klin, in Moscow. The Russian air force will carry out fly-pasts over more than 47 cities and its military base in Syria

Mil Mi-35M helicopters take off ahead of taking part in a Victory Day air show at an airfield in the town of Klin, Moscow. The nation will showcase a full array of jets and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighters

Mil Mi-35M helicopters take off ahead of taking part in a Victory Day air show at an airfield in the town of Klin, Moscow. The nation will showcase a full array of jets and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighters

A servviceman wears a note tied around his neck and a face mask while standing next to a flag on the Perekop training ship by Leitenanta Shmidta Embankment on Victory Day in St Petersburg, Russia

A servviceman wears a note tied around his neck and a face mask while standing next to a flag on the Perekop training ship by Leitenanta Shmidta Embankment on Victory Day in St Petersburg, Russia

A pilot in the cockpit of a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter ahead of a Victory Day air show, at an airfield in Klin, Moscow. Processions commemorating Soviet participants in the war moved online, with people posting pictures of family members

A pilot in the cockpit of a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter ahead of a Victory Day air show, at an airfield in Klin, Moscow. Processions commemorating Soviet participants in the war moved online, with people posting pictures of family members

Two pilots in the cockpit of a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter before they take off for a Victory Day air show marking the 75th anniversary of Victory Day, at an airfield in Klin. Fireworks will also be let off across much of Russia, during the lockdown

Two pilots in the cockpit of a Mil Mi-8AMTSh helicopter before they take off for a Victory Day air show marking the 75th anniversary of Victory Day, at an airfield in Klin. Fireworks will also be let off across much of Russia, during the lockdown

On the eve of the anniversary, Putin sent congratulatory letters to many former Soviet republics, as well as to the leaders of Britain, the United States and France.

Putin has accused Russia’s detractors of diminishing the Soviet war effort, and on Friday he warned post-Soviet leaders against what he said were attempts to rewrite the history of World War Two.

In his messages to foreign leaders, Putin said their countries should build on the cooperation between the Soviet Union and the Allies as Moscow’s relations with the West remain fraught.

‘This invaluable cooperation experience is highly needed even today,’ Putin wrote to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Kremlin said.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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