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Nationalist rallies and dance festivals: Russia goes diverse for National Unity Day (PHOTOS)

Published time: November 04, 2012 21:15
Edited time: November 05, 2012 15:28
© Artyom Sizov / Ridus.ru

© Artyom Sizov / Ridus.ru

Throughout Russia a wide range of events have taken place to celebrate its newest holiday – National Unity Day. Nationalists threw a number of marches, while Moscow's youth engaged in dance activities and donating blood.

The main nationalist event – the 'Russian March' in Moscow gathered some 20,000 demonstrators, the organizers claim, though police say some 6,000 attended the event. The participants chanted their usual slogans “Russia is for Russians” and such and were carrying banners, Imperial flags and icons.

Most of the banners were of nationalist nature calling for migrants to return to their home countries. However, also gaining notice were some lesser held beliefs, such as calling to remove Lenin from his mausoleum resting place.

RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev
RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev

Whilst the Moscow march went peacefully, in Saint Petersburg police detained some 70 nationalists who tried to stage an unsanctioned rally in the city center.

Rather small nationalist marches took place in a number of cities throughout Russia including Saratov, Perm, Ulyanovsk, Cheboksary and Murmansk.

In Nizhny Novgorod the “Russian March” was turned into “March of the Regions” with a main slogan – “Stop feeding Moscow!”

Russian nationalists attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Russian nationalists attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

But not everyone sees National Unity Day as an opportunity to vent nationalist rhetoric. In the center of Moscow a festival called “Energy of unity” gathered youths interested in dance and extreme sports. The area was also equipped with mobile donor stations, where young people could donate blood.

Religious processions took place in several Russian cities to celebrate the day, with priests leading people carrying icons.

A Russian nationalist holds an icon as he attends a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
A Russian nationalist holds an icon as he attends a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

The National Unity Day was first marked in 2005. The holiday was established to celebrate the liberation of the country from Polish and Lithuanian invaders in the 17th century, when Russian people united under the leadership of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and militia leader Kozma Minin.

The two are now regarded as national heroes and their monument is situated at the Red Square opposite St. Basil`s Cathedral.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin laid flowers at the monument to commemorate the Day of Unity and 400 years since their historic deeds. The president was joined by the representatives of most numerous religions in Moscow: Patriarch Kirill, leader of the country's Orthodox Church, the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Ezras, Russia's Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar and Russia’s Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin.

Vladimir Putin (C) welcomes leaders of world religions before a flower-laying ceremony at the Monument of Minin and Pozharsky, the leaders of a popular uprising against Polish invaders in 1612, to mark National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)
Vladimir Putin (C) welcomes leaders of world religions before a flower-laying ceremony at the Monument of Minin and Pozharsky, the leaders of a popular uprising against Polish invaders in 1612, to mark National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)
A Russian ultra-nationalist holds a doll of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin as he takes part in the so-called "Russian March" in central Moscow on November 4, 2012, marking the National Unity Day (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)
A Russian ultra-nationalist holds a doll of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin as he takes part in the so-called "Russian March" in central Moscow on November 4, 2012, marking the National Unity Day (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)
Russian nationalists attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
Russian nationalists attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev
RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev
Russian nationalists shout as they attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
Russian nationalists shout as they attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
Russian nationalists shout as they attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Russian nationalists shout as they attend a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
Russian ultra-nationalists wave Russian Empire′s black-yellow-white flags as they take part in the so-called "Russian March" in central Moscow on November 4, 2012, marking the National Unity Day (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)
Russian ultra-nationalists wave Russian Empire's black-yellow-white flags as they take part in the so-called "Russian March" in central Moscow on November 4, 2012, marking the National Unity Day (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)
Russian nationalists take part in a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)
Russian nationalists take part in a "Russian March" demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow November 4, 2012 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

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