The Citizen (Gauteng)
Putin denounces ‘Russophobia’ at parade
Moscow – President Vladimir Putin yesterday promised Russia will “firmly” defend national interests, and denounced the return of “Russophobia”, as the country marked the 76th anniversary of victory in World War II.
“Russia consistently defends international law. At the same time, we will firmly defend our national interests to ensure the safety of our people,” Putin told thousands of military personnel and veterans gathered on Red Square.
He denounced what he called a creeping return of ideologies of the time, when “slogans of racial and national superiority, of anti-semitism and Russophobia, became ever more cynical”.
Putin’s speech came at an annual parade that sees military hardware roll through the streets of Moscow.
The state-run RIA Novosti agency reported more than 12 000 military personnel took part in the parade in the Russian capital, as well as some 190 pieces of military equipment and 76 fighter jets and helicopters.
Victory Day parades, which only became an annual event after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, also took place in dozens of cities across the nation.
The public holiday is central to the Russian calendar, with a survey by state-run VTsIOM showing that 69% of Russians view it as the country’s most important.
A third of respondents told VTsIOM they would take part in the celebrations, while a fifth said they would watch on television.
During Putin’s two decades in power, the holiday has taken on increasing importance in projecting Russia’s renewed military might. –