Putin makes first appearance in weeks as virus crisis soars to 10,000 cases a day – The Sun
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has made his first public appearance in weeks to mark Victory Day – the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two.
The leader has come under fire for his government's response to the coronavirus crisis as cases in Russia soared to 10,000 a day in the past week.
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Victory Day is one of Russia's most important annual holidays, but the service was stripped back this year due to strict lockdown measures.
A huge celebration had originally been planned for the 75th anniversary, including a huge military parade in Red Square.
To mark the occasion, Putin laid a wreathe of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow – a war memorial dedicated to the 8.5 million Soviet soldiers who died during the war.
Afterwards, the President gave a short speech honouring the bravery and courage of the Soviet army.
It was Putin's first public appearance in weeks, as the leader has chosen to work remotely during the coronavirus crisis.
The President has faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic, as the country suffers Europe's biggest rise in infections.
There are now close to 200,000 cases of the virus in Russia, the third-highest in the world after Britain and the US.
Nurses and medical workers have complained of a lack of PPE and ventilators, with military factories told to urgently produce equipment desperately needed in hospitals.
Putin's popularity ratings have seen a decline in the past month, with one poll from the Levada Centre showing less than half of citizens want to see him still in power when his current term expires in 2024.
The President's crucial "trust" ratings have also been decline over the last year, while his United Russia party lost a third of its seats in Moscow in last September's local elections.
The scenes on Victory Day were less subdued in neighbouring Belarus, which hosted a large military parade in the capital Minsk.
President Lukashenko has consistently denied the danger of the coronavirus, dismissing it as a "flu" that can be cured by vodka and saunas.
It comes as the rest of Europe celebrated the efforts of war heroes on the 75th anniversary VE Day yesterday.
Brits held street parties to mark the occasion, while a two minute silence was observed to remember the incredible sacrifices made by veterans.
On May 8, 1945, fighting stopped as the Germans surrendered to the allies, marking the end of Adolf Hitler’s war and sparking celebrations around the globe.
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