Russia cancels Immortal Regiment procession due to security concerns

Victory Day parade in St. Petersburg, 9 May 2022. Photo: ANATOLY MALTSEV

Victory Day parade in St. Petersburg, 9 May 2022. Photo: ANATOLY MALTSEV

The annual Immortal Regiment procession has been cancelled due to security concerns, co-chairman of the movement’s committee and State Duma Deputy Yelena Tsunaeva announced in a press conference on Tuesday.

The march will not go ahead as usual on 9 May — Victory Day, a holiday marking the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany — following an increase in Ukrainian drone and missile strikes. The decision comes a month after the deadly Crocus City Hall terror attack, in which at least 144 people were killed.

The Immortal Regiment procession commemorates Russians who fought in the Second World War, with people marching in cities across the country holding photos of their relatives.

The procession started off as a grassroots movement in the Siberian city of Tomsk in 2012 and then spread across Russia. Since 2015, the local authorities have been involved in the marches, hijacking the events for propaganda purposes.

In 2022, the march went ahead as planned, despite the war in Ukraine, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance, but by 2023, organisers had abandoned the idea, citing security concerns.

Russia appears to be repressing public displays of mourning or grief. Besides cancelling this event for the second year in a row, relatives of soldiers killed in Ukraine have also been silenced.

Ukraine had warned that Russian forces would try to capture the town of Chasiv Yar in the disputed Donetsk region by 9 May in order to parade their triumph on Victory Day.

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