Citing the continuing coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced on Friday he will not travel to Moscow next week to attend a Russian military parade that will mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
Russian President Putin invited him to the Red Square parade slated for June 24 when they spoke by phone on June 1. Pashinian accepted the invitation.
In a letter to Putin publicized by his office, the Armenian leader said he looked forward to taking part in Russia’s World War Two Victory Day celebrations.
“But as it turned out afterwards, the existing epidemiological situation does not allow me to carry out this visit,” he wrote. “Based on that, I decided to refrain from travelling to Moscow. This was discussed in detail and agreed upon by our staffs.”
Pashinian added that he still hopes to meet with Putin soon.
Pashinian announced his decision five days after 75 Armenian soldiers flew to Moscow in preparation for their participation in the parade.
The Defense Ministry in Yerevan confirmed their participation on June 2. It said that during the annual display of Russia’s military might they will carry not only an Armenian national flag but also the banner of a Red Army division that mostly consisted of Armenians and reached Berlin in May 1945.
Pashinian’s spokeswoman, Mane Gevorgian, said later on Friday that Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan will “lead” the Armenian army contingent during the parade.
The parade, originally scheduled for May 9, was postponed by the Kremlin in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both Armenia and Russia have been hit hard by the pandemic.