On May 9th, Russia celebrates ‘Victory Day’ in commemoration of the defeat of Nazi Germany. Every year, a memorial service is also held at Basel’s Hörnli cemetery, where four Soviet soldiers who died in Switzerland during World War II are buried.
The burial site is maintained by the Russian Embassy and the ceremony is usually attended by the Russian Ambassador.
However, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, there have been growing calls from journalists and Swiss citizens to cancel the celebration, who claim that the event is a gathering of Putin supporters.
In a message published on its website, the Russian Embassy has condemned the “anti-Russian frenzy” and warned against cancellation.
It is by no means a “propaganda event”, it said, and participants would only wear “portraits of their parents, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers who fought in the Second World War.”
— Russian Embassy Bern (@RusEmbSwiss) May 7, 2022
The Basel government has since decided that the celebrations can go ahead – but under strict conditions. Government spokesman Marco Greiner told the Basler Zeitung: “there will be a limited, small group of people around the ambassador.”
The time of the ceremony has also not been publicly communicated, but Greiner said: “there will be security arrangements.” Greiner added that the Basel government will not attend the event.