This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian World War II veterans scheduled to watch a Victory Day military parade with President Vladimir Putin later this month have been placed under quarantine as a precautionary measure.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on June 18 that the decision to quarantine the veterans would safeguard Putin from getting the virus and that the group had been placed at spas and rest homes with “wonderful conditions.”
“First of all, as they are expected to communicate with each other [at the parade, ] it is about taking care of their health. It is very important that all precautions are undertaken,” Peskov said, adding that it is also “a great opportunity for the veterans to receive additional medical services.”
The parade, which is usually held on May 9 each year to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Union in 1945, was moved to June 24 because of the coronavirus outbreak. The new date was chosen as it was the day when the first Soviet victory parade after the war was held 75 years ago.
The Kremlin has been careful to limit the risk Putin may face from the pandemic, especially after both Peskov and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin both tested positive for the coronavirus.
Media reports in Russia said this week that special disinfection tunnels had been installed at Putin’s residence outside Moscow for individuals wishing to meet with him there or in the Kremlin.
The annual military parade is a major celebration that includes dozens of military vehicles passing through the center of Moscow as thousands of spectators crowd along the streets to watch.
Authorities in several towns and cities across Russia have postponed or canceled military parades due to the virus, but in the capital, the epicenter of Russia’s outbreak, the parade will take place.
Russian health authorities said on June 18 that the number of coronavirus cases in the country had reached 561,091, including 7,660 deaths.