Moscow (AFP) - Thousands of Russian troops will march in Moscow on Wednesday as President Vladimir Putin brushes off virus fears to host a World War II commemoration ahead of a crucial vote on his rule.
The military display in Red Square to mark 75 years since the Soviet victory in World War II had been scheduled for May 9 but the Kremlin postponed it citing requests from veterans, as coronavirus cases shot up.
Putin rescheduled the event as soon as lockdown measures eased, keen to move on from an outbreak that has hit his country hard.
With more than 8,000 recorded fatalities and around 580,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections, Russia has the pandemic's third largest caseload after the United States and Brazil.
It comes just a week ahead of a national vote on constitutional amendments that would allow Putin, in power since 2000, to reset his term-limit clock to zero and stay in the Kremlin until 2036.
So in the midst of a pentameric holding a parade with many spectators. Does the obvious propaganda - playing the patriotic cards - showing Putin as a "strong" leader will be enough to balance the damage done to the Russian economy? As we understand it, even in Russia, Putin's popularity is diminishing.
The vote next week to give Putin the freedom to stay on till 2036, isn't a given anymore. Although was watching a broadcast last night - Nieuwsuur - which a Russian commentator said; "the results are already fixed: the vote turnout will be 65% with a majority of 75% will be in favour".
We will see if this prediction will be correct. The new "constitution" is already available in bookshops all over Russia.