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“They are removing signs of the crimes they have committed,” said the Mariupol mayor.Mariupol: Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russia of planning to hold a military parade in the captured city of Mariupol on May 9 to celebrate victory over the Nazis in World War II.Kyiv said an official from Russia’s presidential administration had arrived in the strategic southern port city, which has been largely destroyed in Russia’s more than two-month invasion of Ukraine, to oversee plans for the Victory Day parade.”Mariupol will become a centre of ‘celebration’,” Ukraine’s military intelligence said in a statement on social media.”The central streets of the city are urgently being cleaned of debris, bodies and unexploded ordnance.”Mariupol is one of the most battered cities in Ukraine. A group of Ukrainian forces are still holding out in its Azovstal steel plant.”A large-scale propaganda campaign is under way. Russians will be shown stories about the ‘joy’ of locals on meeting the occupiers,” it said.Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko later told Ukrainian television there were ongoing “works” in the city, as if the Russians were preparing for something.”They are removing signs of the crimes they have committed,” he said.The Ukrainian military on Tuesday said Russian troops had launched an offensive to rout troops inside Azovstal shortly after the United Nations and Red Cross confirmed the evacuation of more than 100 civilians from the site.The Kremlin denied Russia was storming the plant on Wednesday, but Boichenko said there was “heavy fighting” there and that city officials had “lost contact” with the troops inside with no way of knowing “what’s going on, whether they are safe or not”.In a briefing on the army’s plan for May 9, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made no mention of a celebratory march in Mariupol.He said parades would take place in 28 cities, involving some 65,000 people, 2,400 pieces of military hardware and more than 400 aircraft.Russians celebrate Victory Day every year on May 9 with military parades and public events commemorating the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.Moscow has said the aim of its massive invasion was to “de-militarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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