Russian authorities announced Tuesday that they will close Moscow’s Red Square to the public for an unprecedented two weeks ahead of the country’s annual parade marking the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Each year on May 9, Russia celebrates the Victory Day holiday with a massive military parade on Red Square that features a speech by President Vladimir Putin.
“In connection with the preparation and holding of solemn events, Red Square will be closed to the public from April 27 to May 10, 2023,” the Federal Guard Service (FSO), which provides security for the Kremlin, said in a statement.
The FSO has never before restricted access to Red Square in preparation for the parade for such a long period.
In 2018, the agency closed off Red Square from May 4-9, and in 2019, from May 6-9.
Ahead of the 2022 Victory Day parade, the first since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Red Square was closed from May 4-10.
Officials last week canceled the Immortal Regiment march, which sees millions of people parade through Russian cities with portraits of relatives who fought in World War II on Victory Day, over apparent security threats.
At least two Russian regions as well as annexed Crimea have called off their Victory Day parades altogether.
The Kremlin has in recent years promoted celebrations of Victory Day, one of Russia’s most popular holidays with military parades taking center stage, to foster patriotism and rally support for the Armed Forces.
But the country has been on increased alert in recent months over the threat of cross-border attacks from Ukraine, which Moscow invaded in February 2022.
Russia’s regions bordering Ukraine have reported regular cross-border shelling attacks since the start of the invasion.
In late 2022, Moscow blamed Kyiv for explosions at two military airfields located deep inside Russia’s territory.
On Monday, Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport halted takeoffs and landings for several hours due to the sighting of an unidentified drone.