Saturday 10/16/21

Putin reappears in public after a month to celebrate independence

The Russian leader thanked the country's health personnel for their service. His last public appearance was on May 9.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during during the Victory Day military parade, marking the 74th anniversary of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, at the Red Square. Russia marked 30 years since it declared independence from the Soviet Union with festivities on Friday, but they were subdued because of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: -/Kremlin/dpa
File photo of the Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering a speech during the Victory Day military parade. Photo: Kremlin/dpa.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first public appearance in more than a month at a flag-raising ceremony in Moscow on Friday.

Putin, who was shown on state television not wearing a mask during the ceremony, had been working remotely as a precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic. His last public appearance was on May 9.

The Russian leader thanked the country's medical personnel for their service in a speech on the patriotic Russia Day holiday, celebrating the country's independence from the Soviet Union.

"We bow to them for their service, courage and boundless sacrifice," Putin said.

Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said in separate comments to Russian news agencies that the ceremony's participants had been tested for the virus.

Independence from Soviet Union

Russia marked 30 years since it declared independence from the Soviet Union with festivities throughout the country on Friday, but they were subdued because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I would not recommend going anywhere for these festivities. Mass events are prohibited," Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in comments carried by state media.

Russia has recorded more than 500,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, the world's third-largest caseload, behind those of the United States and Brazil.

About half of Russia's cases have been in Moscow, the capital and largest city, which this week ended a two-month lockdown amid a declining infection rate as senior officials look to reboot the country's devastated economy.

Parade in June

"There will be official events on June 12, including a parade, but it is better to watch them on television," Sobyanin said ahead of the Russia Day holiday.

Russians throughout the country have been advised to avoid crowds on the holiday, which commemorates the date in 1990 when the then-Soviet republic declared sovereignty, expediting the end of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There are now 15 former Soviet countries, with Moscow, which also served as the Soviet capital, maintaining much of its influence in the region.

Russia remains the world's largest country by territory.

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