Putin uses World War II parade to boost support before vote

MOSCOW (AP) — A massive military parade on Red Square marking the end of World War II in Europe is set to take place this week even though Russia’s coronavirus caseload is still rising steadily. President Vladimir Putin’s insistence on holding the parade on Wednesday reflects not only his desire to put Russia’s power on display but also to bolster patriotic sentiment a week before a constitutional referendum that could allow him to stay in office until 2036. The Victory Day parade normally is held on May 9, but it was postponed by the virus. Wednesday’s celebration coincides with the day in 1945 when the first parade was held on Red Square after the defeat of Nazi Germany.