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Belarusian President says Russian officials are welcome to attend Victory Day celebrations in Minsk

Source: BelTA

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has announced that Victory Day celebrations will go forward in Minsk on May 9, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“We cannot cancel the parade. We simply cannot. I have thought about this for a long time. Of course, it is an emotional, deeply ideological thing. [We] need to remember that these people died, maybe also from viruses, other illnesses. But they often did not feel this and did not think about this. And they died for us,” Lukashenko said, according to the Belarusian state news agency BelTA. “And think what people will say. Maybe not immediately but in a day or two after this, they will say we were afraid.”

Lukashenko also said that a number of Russian officials had expressed a desire to attend the May 9 parade in Minsk, since Moscow decided to delay its celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II.

“We welcome this. Let them come [...] Our airports are open. I think we will agree with Russia’s leadership on a flight for those wishing to visit us. We are not closing [our] doors to our friends and brothers” Lukashenko said. The Belarusian President has previously criticized Russia’s decision to close its borders because of the global pandemic.

  • Belarus has yet to introduce any serious lockdown restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. As of May 4, Belarus had 17,489 confirmed cases of the coronavirus; 103 people had died of the disease and 3,259 had recovered.
  • While the Belarusian Health Ministry claims the outbreak is under control, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Belarus has one of the highest growth rates of COVID-19 infections in Europe. The WHO is recommending that Belarus postpone mass events and introduce quarantine measures.
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