"I must say that we cannot cancel the parade. We simply cannot. I have been thinking about it for a long time. Of course, this is an emotional and deeply ideological thing," Lukashenko said, as quoted by the state news agency BelTA.
He noted that Soviet soldiers had sacrificed their lives for the sake of the next generations without fear of dying.
"We must remember that those people died [during WWII] perhaps from viruses and other diseases as well. But they did not realize it sometimes and they did not think about it. And they died for us, however high-flown it may sound. Just think what people would say [if we cancel the parade]. Maybe not immediately, but in a day or two after [May 9], they would say that we got scared," the president added.
He at the same time stressed that Belarus would understand those people who might abstain from attending the parade due to health concerns, noting that there are "thousands and thousands" of those looking forward to the event.
The veterans of the Great Patriotic War, he said, were "the first to demand that they be brought to this event." He noted that veterans are in their 90s and the country should thoroughly think about it, since "all these infections cling to the elderly in the first place."
Earlier in the day, Belarus updated its COVID-19 tally by 877 cases to 16,705. The death toll is standing at 99. The country has refrained from introducing economic lockdown or movement restrictions.