Russians are seething at millions of rubles spent on fireworks and dispersing clouds for Victory Day celebrations while the government refuses to lend a helping hand to those hit by coronavirus lockdown. The festivities in Russia which mark the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 were going to be some of the most lavish in years but the Kremlin had to scale back the celebrations as the coronavirus epidemic swept through the country. With nearly 11,000 new cases reported on Friday, Russia now has Europe’s fastest-growing rate in Covid-19 infections, which currently stand at 187,000. That has not stopped Moscow from going ahead with plans to set off expensive fireworks at 16 locations around the city. In a statement that drew countless angry comments online, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Thursday that the fireworks would be launched as planned and asked Muscovites to stay at home, warning of the risk of getting infected in public places. Moscow has paid a total of 34.8 million rubles (£400,000) to launch fireworks on several holidays in 2020, and it will spend £1.2 million sending jets in the air to disperse clouds with chemicals in order to ensure a clear sky, according to publicly available procurement contracts. The generous spending on fireworks follows recent statements by Kremlin officials who insisted that it was not expedient to hand out cash to millions of Russians who lost their incomes or businesses due to the epidemic. “The fireworks will go ahead and cost millions, and then (the authorities) will tell us that it’s not okay to hand out cash to people but it’s okay to spend money on the fireworks that no one is going to see,” popular blogger Alexander Gorbunov said in a tweet. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, last month scrapped the military parade on Red Square where he was expected to host Chinese leader Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron, but he issued a decree last week to give the green light to a lavish flypast on Victory Day.

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