Russian officials announced Monday that thousands of troops set to march in a now-canceled parade through Moscow’s Red Square will be quarantined for two weeks amid concerns over possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Russia’s defense ministry said that some 15,000 troops who took part in rehearsals for the parade will be transferred back to their permanent garrisons throughout the country and remain in isolation for the next 14 days. Officials did not make clear whether any soldiers had tested positive for the virus or whether the measure was simply a precaution, according to The New York Times.
However, officials said that all military vehicles and aircraft used to return the soldiers to their bases will be disinfected, adding that they had issued personal protective equipment to the soldiers being rebased.
— Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) April 20, 2020
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced days before that the May 9 ceremony marking Victory Day, a major observance commemorating the Red Army’s victories in World War II, had been postponed.
The Russian government had hoped to use the 75th annual celebration to strengthen its ties with international leaders, with French President Emanuel Macron set to attend, according to The Guardian. Russian officials have not yet announced a rescheduled date for the festivities.
Leaked footage of the rehearsal showed thousands of troops lined up without masks or social distancing precautions even as Moscow has imposed a strict lockdown order. The defense ministry confirmed the rehearsal took place on April 1, two days after the lockdown was announced.
Dmitri Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, denied that the footage showed a violation of the physical distancing guidelines, saying members of the military have “a totally different regime of isolation that of course allows them greater freedom of movement,” according to The Guardian.
Russia has confirmed 47,121 coronavirus cases and 405 deaths from the virus as of Monday.