‘We had no other choice’ Photos from Minsk’s Victory Day parade
On May 9, despite a lockdown across much of the world, Minsk went ahead with its Victory Day Parade to mark the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s surrender to the USSR. Belarus was the only former Soviet republic not to cancel its full holiday celebrations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “We simply couldn’t have done otherwise; we had no other choice. Because we are watched by the Soviet soldiers who died for our freedom, and the partisans and underground resistance fighters tortured by the Gestapo, and the elderly and the women and children who perished at Khatyn,” said President Alexander Lukashenko in a speech explaining why he refused to cancel the parade. In recent days, independent journalists in Belarus reported that staff members at state enterprises and universities were being actively encouraged and in some cases even ordered to attend Saturday’s parade. In the end, however, crowds at Minsk’s festivities were noticeably smaller than in years past. The evening’s festivities included a public ceremony and fireworks.