Several Telegram channels critical of the Kremlin reported that students and employees of state institutions in a number of regions were ordered by their superiors to attend rallies and concerts marking the anniversary. Those reports could not be independently verified.

Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a packed Moscow stadium Friday and lavished praise on his troops fighting in Ukraine, three weeks into the invasion that has led to heavier-than-expected Russian losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home, AP reports.

Meanwhile, the leader of Russia’s delegation in diplomatic talks with Ukraine said the sides have narrowed their differences. The Ukrainian side said its position remained unchanged.

The Moscow rally came as Russian troops continued to rain lethal fire on Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv, and pounded an aircraft repair installation on the outskirts of Lviv, close to the Polish border.

“Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other,” the Russian president said of the Kremlin’s forces in a rare public appearance since the start of the war. “We have not had unity like this for a long time,” he added to cheers from the crowd.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse