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Russia celebrates Victory Day as lockdown leaves Moscow deserted

Russia’s capital resembled a ghost town on this Victory Day, with traditional military parades and lavish celebrations cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic – following yesterday’s similarly downscaled celebrations held in Europe yesterday.

Last year an estimated half-million people came out in Moscow on Thursday to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Due to the lockdown enforced in the city, previously bustling and traffic-clogged streets were eerily empty with only the occasional car or passerby to be seen.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin said that Russia is “invincible” when “united”, as he gave a short speech at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, near the Kremlin, this morning.

The celebration was also marked by a flypast over the Red Square by the Su-25 warplanes, which left white, blue and red trails resembling the Russian flag.

Russian Sukhoi Su-25 warplanes fly over the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. May 9, 2020.Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month ordered the postponement of a celebration that has previously topped the Kremlin’s political agenda.

He assured officials during a video conference that the 2020 parade would still take place at some point, but that the coronavirus crisis took priority.

Russia has so far reported more than 198,600 cases, including 10,817 identified in the last 24 hours, according to the authorities. Also, an additional 104 deaths were reported today, bringing the toll in the country to more than 1,800.

Russia is now the world’s fifth-most affected country in terms of contamination, behind the US, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Authorities say the surge in the number of cases in the past week can be explained by the increase in tests carried out – 5.2 million as of Saturday – and not by a spike in the virus spread.