Fischer rejects Russian Victory Day parade

Fischer rejects Russian Victory Day parade
The parade on Red Square. Photo: Shutterstock
Austria’s President Heinz Fischer has announced that he will join other European leaders in snubbing celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Moscow. He announced his cancellation on Thursday in a press release.

Fischer said that he would be represented by the Austrian ambassador in Moscow, and that he had sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, acknowledging the "million victims of the Soviet Union during World War II."

Russian officials have said the decision by many European leaders not to attend the May 9th Victory Day parade is an insult to the memory of Allied soldiers. The celebration is marked annually with great pomp and ceremony on Red Square.

The leaders of Great Britain, Poland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have said they will not attend, while Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, has announced she will travel to Russia a day later and join President Putin in laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Czech, Serbian and Greek leaders have said they will attend the event, as will leaders from China, India, Cuba and North Korea.

European leaders are boycotting the event in protest at Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Barack Obama, the US president, has also refused to go, saying his schedule is too busy.

Putin controversially visited Vienna in June 2014, after tensions had spiralled over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its actions in eastern Ukraine.

He met with President Fischer, who at the time said that it was important to keep channels of communication open. 

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