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Czech President To Skip Military Parade In Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Czech President Milos Zeman attend celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy, France, on June 6, 2014.

The Czech president has decided to skip a military parade during a visit to Moscow next month.

A presidential spokesman said on April 10 that President Milos Zeman will use the time on May 9 instead for a bilateral meeting with Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Zeman had come under increasing pressure, including from the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, for being one of the few European leaders who planned to attend the World War II Victory Day celebrations.

European Union leaders are boycotting the ceremony over what they say is Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Moscow denies Western accusations that it provides rebels in eastern Ukraine with money, arms, and troops.

The spokesman said Zeman's decision to skip the parade was "sovereign and independent" and had nothing to do with the criticism.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP