MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin accused Washington on Thursday of putting pressure on some world leaders not to attend events in Russia marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe.
Russia will stage a military parade on May 9 in what Putin called a display of "respect for victims of Nazis and to pay tribute to the ... victors over Nazism". However, many world leaders have declined to attend because of Moscow's backing for separatist rebels in Ukraine.
Asked at his annual phone-in whether Russia should be offended by those who have declined invitations, Putin said "whoever doesn't want to (join) can do as they please".
"This is the personal choice of every political leader and the decision of the country they represent," he said. "Some are unwilling to do so and some are prohibited to do so by the "Washington Obkom" and told they should not go -- although many would like to."
The "Obkom" is a Soviet term for a Communist Party committee and his use of it suggests that post-Soviet states and some activists in Russia follow orders from the United States.