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Troops prepare to parade through Red Square as Putin whips up patriotic fervour ahead of vote

Columns of tanks and troops are parading through Red Square today as President Vladimir Putin oversees grand World War II commemorations to stir up patriotic fervour ahead of a vote on extending his rule.

Forced to postpone the country’s traditional May 9 Victory Day celebrations by the coronavirus pandemic, Putin rescheduled the parade for just a week ahead of a July 1 public vote on controversial constitutional reforms.

Among other changes, the reforms Putin proposed earlier this year would reset the presidential term-limit clock to zero, allowing him to potentially stay in the Kremlin until 2036.

He announced the new dates for the parade and the vote – initially planned for April – last month despite Russia still recording thousands of new coronavirus cases every day.

The rate of new infections has fallen in recent weeks and cities including Moscow have lifted lockdowns, but Russia still has the third highest coronavirus caseload in the world and critics say Putin is rushing ahead for his own political ends.

An aerial view shows Red Square before the Victory Day Parade in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday as crowds begin to enter the stands ahead of the 75th anniversary of victory in WWII, known in the country as the Great Patriotic War

Servicewomen stand in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from May 9 to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

Servicewomen stand in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from May 9 to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

A column of Msta-SM self-propelled tracked howitzers and a BTR-82A armoured personnel carrier (L-R) move along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War

A column of Msta-SM self-propelled tracked howitzers and a BTR-82A armoured personnel carrier (L-R) move along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday. Ahead of the parade, he slammed the West for 'insulting Russia' by playing down the USSR's role in winning the war.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday. Ahead of the parade, he slammed the West for ‘insulting Russia’ by playing down the USSR’s role in winning the war.

Russian snipers secure the area prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin rescheduled the parade for just a week ahead of a July 1 public vote on controversial constitutional reforms. Officials say the date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the first post-war parade on Red Square, which saw Soviet troops throw down Nazi standards in front of the Lenin mausoleum on June 24, 1945.

Russian snipers secure the area prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin rescheduled the parade for just a week ahead of a July 1 public vote on controversial constitutional reforms. Officials say the date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the first post-war parade on Red Square, which saw Soviet troops throw down Nazi standards in front of the Lenin mausoleum on June 24, 1945.

Russian military students arrive in Red Square to participate a military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat, in Moscow

Russian military students arrive in Red Square to participate a military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat, in Moscow

A Russian servicewoman takes pictures of her comrades at an embankment of the Moskva river prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow on Wednesday

A Russian servicewoman takes pictures of her comrades at an embankment of the Moskva river prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow on Wednesday

Guards marching with flags on Red Square during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. The Kremlin said that safety precautions were being taken in the lead-up to the parade - but participants will not wear masks and there is still a ban on mass gatherings in Moscow

Guards marching with flags on Red Square during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. The Kremlin said that safety precautions were being taken in the lead-up to the parade – but participants will not wear masks and there is still a ban on mass gatherings in Moscow

Soldiers in blue parade uniforms take part in the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II on Wednesday

Soldiers in blue parade uniforms take part in the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II on Wednesday

Russian President Vladimir Putin and guests waiting to watch a military parade. Prior to the start of the event Russian media had claimed that war veterans quarantined ahead of the event in sanatoriums will be seated at intervals in the stands on Red Square.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and guests waiting to watch a military parade. Prior to the start of the event Russian media had claimed that war veterans quarantined ahead of the event in sanatoriums will be seated at intervals in the stands on Red Square.

This year’s parade, marking 75 years since the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany, includes some 13,000 troops from 13 countries, as well as vintage equipment and the latest military hardware showing off Russia’s fighting capabilities.

More than 20 pieces of new equipment are on show for the first time including Tosochka flame-throwers, T-90M tanks and Buk-M3 surface-to-air missile systems.

As the parade got underway, the speaker announced: ‘Attention, this is Moscow speaking and showing. Listen to and watch Red Square. The Victory Parade in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War!’

A MSTA-SM self-propelled howitzer moves along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

A MSTA-SM self-propelled howitzer moves along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Parade formations line up before the start of the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Parade formations line up before the start of the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile systems move along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile systems move along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Russian military students arrive in Red Square to participate a military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat, in Moscow, Russia

Russian military students arrive in Red Square to participate a military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat, in Moscow, Russia

Head of the Military University of the Russian Defense Ministry Lieutenant Genral Igor Mishutkin, center, is seen with colleagues before the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Head of the Military University of the Russian Defense Ministry Lieutenant Genral Igor Mishutkin, center, is seen with colleagues before the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Russian servicemen salute as they carry the Russian Federation flag and a red Soviet hammer and sickle standard passed dignitaries gathered to watch the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow

Russian servicemen salute as they carry the Russian Federation flag and a red Soviet hammer and sickle standard passed dignitaries gathered to watch the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow

Servicemen march in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Servicemen march in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

An officer inspecting his men before the start of the parades to mark Russia's victory against the Nazis in the so-called Great Patriotic War (World War Two)

An officer inspecting his men before the start of the parades to mark Russia’s victory against the Nazis in the so-called Great Patriotic War (World War Two)

Officials say the date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the first post-war parade on Red Square, which saw Soviet troops throw down Nazi standards in front of the Lenin mausoleum on June 24, 1945.

In his two decades in office, Putin has harnessed the legacy of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II to boost patriotic sentiment and support for his government.

Ahead of the parade, he slammed the West for ‘insulting Russia’ by playing down the USSR’s role in winning the war.

A TOS-1A Buratino multiple rocket launcher moves along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from 9 May to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

A TOS-1A Buratino multiple rocket launcher moves along Tverskaya Street ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from 9 May to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

Servicemen stand in formation in front of the State Historical Museum ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from 9 May to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

Servicemen stand in formation in front of the State Historical Museum ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from 9 May to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu drives an Aurus cabriolet during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow. As the parade got underway, the speaker announced: 'Attention, this is Moscow speaking and showing. Listen to and watch Red Square. The Victory Parade in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War!'

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu drives an Aurus cabriolet during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow. As the parade got underway, the speaker announced: ‘Attention, this is Moscow speaking and showing. Listen to and watch Red Square. The Victory Parade in honour of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War!’

Officials stand guard at Red Square prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow

Officials stand guard at Red Square prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow

Parade formations before the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Parade formations before the Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron had been scheduled before the pandemic to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Kremlin chief at the parade, in a testament to Russia’s growing international influence under Putin.

Now the Russian president will be flanked by the heads of breakaway statelets in the former Soviet Union and leaders of close allies like Serbia and Belarus.

With more than 8,000 recorded fatalities and around 600,000 confirmed infections, Russia has the third-largest coronavirus caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil.

The Kremlin said that safety precautions were being taken in the lead-up to the parade – but participants will not wear masks and there is still a ban on mass gatherings in Moscow.

Dozens of regions have decided not to go ahead with their own commemorative parades, citing concerns that a spike in cases could overwhelm underfunded and poorly equipped hospitals throughout the country.

Guests arriving to watch a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday

Guests arriving to watch a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow on Wednesday

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu crosses himself as he rides in an Aurus cabriolet to inspect the troops during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu crosses himself as he rides in an Aurus cabriolet to inspect the troops during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square

A specialist wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant before the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow amid the coronavirus pandemic

A specialist wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant before the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow amid the coronavirus pandemic

Servicemen march in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from 9 May to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus

Servicemen march in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. Victory Day parades across Russia have been postponed from 9 May to 24 June due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus 

Servicewomen stand in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Servicewomen stand in formation ahead of a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Russian soldiers in face masks stand in formation during a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Russian soldiers in face masks stand in formation during a Victory Day military parade in Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II

Russian servicemen line up before the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Russian servicemen line up before the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Yet events marking the Soviet victory will go ahead in Saint Petersburg, Volgograd and Simferopol in Russian-annexed Crimea.

Reflecting these concerns, both Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov have advised people to watch the procession on television rather than attend in person.

Precautions are also being taken for the constitutional vote, with early balloting starting on Thursday and continuing through to the official vote day on July 1. 

Prior to the start of the event Russian media had claimed that war veterans quarantined ahead of the event in sanatoriums will be seated at intervals in the stands on Red Square.

However, Putin was pictured seated with older men and women decorated with military medals, presumably the veterans, with no signs of social distancing in place.  

Russian snipers secure the area prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two

Russian snipers secure the area prior to a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two

Russian servicemen line up during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia June 24, 2020. The military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, was scheduled for May 9 but postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease

Russian servicemen line up during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia June 24, 2020. The military parade, marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, was scheduled for May 9 but postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes to soldiers as he is driven along Red Square during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow on June 24, 2020

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes to soldiers as he is driven along Red Square during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow on June 24, 2020

Chief opposition figure and one-time presidential hopeful Alexei Navalny has criticised authorities for spending vast sums on the parade and urged his supporters to boycott the ballot.

‘One crazy, greedy man who has gone mad with power is making the whole country engage in delirium,’ he said.

Russia on Wednesday reported 7,176 new cases of the novel coronavirus, pushing its nationwide case total to 606,881, the world’s third highest tally.

The country’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 154 people had died in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 8,513. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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