MOSCOW, 11 March. /TASS/. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend May 9 celebrations in Moscow marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany during the Great Patriotic War, a German government spokesperson told TASS on Wednesday.
The chancellor will not be able to accept the invitation to attend the May 9 parade, on Red Square, making a counterproposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Moscow on the following day, she said.
"She will arrive in Moscow on May 10, and they will together lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall," she said, adding that Putin agreed.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on February 27 that there was no consolidated list of officials attending the festivities so far. "It is still under way," he said in reply to a TASS query whether the other leaders from the BRICS group of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) would arrive.
Traditionally, many world leaders are invited to attend celebrations in Russia on May 9. Attending festivities on the 60th anniversary of VE-Day were the leaders of the United States, Japan, France and China. Merkel attended May 9 celebrations in 2010, five years after the then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder watched the V-Day Parade on Moscow’s Red Square.
On March 8, Czech President Milos Zeman said he would arrive in Moscow for May 9 celebrations. In declaring his decision Zeman said that refusal to attend the events would be tantamount to insulting the memory of liberator soldiers.
"My absence from the ceremonies in Moscow would insult the memory of the 150,000 Soviet soldiers, who gave their lives for the liberation of Czechoslovakia," Zeman said. He dismissed demands by his political opponents to refrain from going to Russia over the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine.