Thousands of Russian nationalists march against Putin


Russian ultra-nationalists wave Russian Empire's black-yellow-white flags and hold banner as they take part in the so-called 'Russian March' in central Moscow on November 4, 2012, marking the National Unity Day. The annual Russian March is timed to coincide with the Day of Popular Unity, a national holiday which this year marks the 400th anniversary of the 1612 expulsion of Polish occupiers from the Kremlin in Moscow. Members of nationalist movements of all hues will take to the streets as Putin, who returned to the Kremlin for a third term in May, is struggling with the worst political crisis since he came to power 12 years ago.


Kirill Kudryavtsev

Over 5,000 Russian nationalists marched through Moscow today demanding the resignation of President Vladimir Putin, according to The Los Angeles Times.

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The rally, held on Russia's Day of National Unity, was permitted by the government -- unlike most anti-Putin demonstrations, observed the LA Times

"Putin is afraid of us," march organizer Alexander Belov said, according to the Associated Press. "He feels his time is ending because the future belongs to us. We will chase out the occupiers from the Kremlin."

Putin recently took office for his third term following a controversial election denounced by the opposition as rigged. 

The protesters, many of whom were wearing Cossack uniforms and waving flags from Russia's imperial empire, marched peacefully for four miles, going from the Moscow River to Gorky Park, said the LA Times, noting that police mostly ignored "numerous chants that were filled with ethnic hatred."

Demonstrators called on the government to stem the flow of immigrants from Central Asia and Eastern Europe, said Al Jazeera. They also accused the Kremlin of discrimminating against its Slav population, said AP

Andrei Piontkovsky of Moscow's System Analysis Institute told the LA Times that Russia's nationalist agenda has changed, saying they no longer seek to "expand Russia, they don’t want to hear about its greater Eurasian status -- Putin’s favorite game." Instead, he said, they're upset by the "troublesome North Caucasus," where Russia is currently fighting a rising Islamic insurgency, adding that the region's "inhabitants they refuse to acknowledge as Russian citizens.”

Therefore, anti-Putin sentiment was strong among marchers. "We beat Hitler, we will beat Putin," AP cited some protesters as chanting. 

Belov said some 20,000 people had turned out for the event, but Moscow police said 6,000 people marched and 2,500 had assembled in Gorky Park, according to Al Jazeera

Authorities refused a request from the Federation of Migrants of Russia that today's event be banned on the grounds it could incite ethnic unrest, said AP

The event was timed to coincide with events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Day of National Unity marking Russia's 1612 freedom from Polish invasion, said Al Jazeera