Putin awards commemorative WWII medal to Kim Jong Un

In this photo released by Russian Embassy in the DPRK/Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Russian Ambassador to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Alexander Matsegora, left, and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon, foreground right, both wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, attend a ceremony of awarding North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with Russia’s 75th anniversary Victory medal for his major contribution in commemorating Soviet soldiers, who died in 1945 during Korea’s liberation, at the Mansudae Palace of Congress in Pyongyang, North Korea. Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded Kim Jong Un a commemorative war medal marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. (Russian Embassy in the DPRK/Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded Kim Jong Un a commemorative war medal marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang said Tuesday.

The medal was awarded to the North Korean leader for his role in preserving the memory of Soviet soldiers who died on North Korean territory, the statement said.

Russia’s ambassador in North Korea, Alexander Matsegora, presented the award to the country’s Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon on Tuesday. Kim, who was rumored earlier this month to have fallen ill, didn’t attend the ceremony.

Photos of the meeting in Pyongyang showed Russian and North Korean officials wearing face masks despite the fact that North Korea so far has not reported a single case of the new coronavirus.

Last year Russia invited Kim to visit Moscow on May 9 and attend the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory. Putin announced the decision to postpone the parade indefinitely last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2015, the North Korean leader rejected a similar invitation to the 70th anniversary, citing domestic affairs.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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