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Putin delays Russia's V-Day parade; cadets test positive for COVID-19

Putin delays Russia's V-Day parade; cadets test positive for COVID-19
Russian soldiers march during a rehearsal of the Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square on May 7, 2019. This year's parade has been postponed due to the coronavirus crisis. File Photo by Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE

April 17 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed next month's Victory Day Parade until later this year due to the coronavirus disease, which has infected dozens of those who have been rehearsing the event.

The decision to delay the annual event came Thursday, just days after officials in Moscow said the parade would go forward as scheduled on May 9. The holiday is considered a sacred date for millions of Russians.

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Cases of the disease have grown significantly in Russia over the last several days to near 30,000. The Moscow Times reported Friday that nearly 50 cadets and instructors who have been rehearsing for the parade have tested positive. The vast majority are between the ages of 15 and 17.

Rehearsals have been staged since February, but Putin said going ahead with the parade would endanger the health of many Russians.

"The life of every person is priceless," he said.

"The risks ... are extremely high and this does not give me the right to start the preparations for the parade and other mass events."

Victory Day celebrates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 to end World War II.

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