Russian nationalist groups plan to bring 20,000 people onto the streets of central Moscow to mark the Day of People’s Unity. After last weekend’s disorderly protests in the capital, many fear the mood of extremism could reach boiling point.
Nationalist leaders applied to the city’s authorities for permission to march on Monday. Activists want to bring together thousands of people on one of the city’s main thoroughfares and march towards Moscow’s central squares. The action is timed to coincide with the Day of People’s Unity, celebrated in Russia on November 4.
The march is to end with a concert and demonstration in central Moscow.
Last Saturday, nationalists organized several actions in Moscow in what is being seen as a sign of a growing tendency towards extremism among young people. An anti-gay protest was held by nationalist groups on a central boulevard. It was directed against a minor gathering by gay rights campaigners. Dozens were detained by police after they began to throw tomatoes at the LGBT group. The “March of equality” was later able to continue.
The marchers held banners stating “Moscow–a city for Russians” and “All for one and one for all” and shouted extremist slogans against immigrants from the North Caucasus and Central Asia. Among other claims, the nationalists demanded a visa regime with the North Caucasian republics and fair trials for crimes with a nationalist dimension.
The Day of People’s Unity, which came into being in 2005, cannot be described as a widely celebrated holiday. However it has become the day of choice for nationalist protests and marches in Russia.
Opposition and right-wing radicals gather for a range of protest actions on the day, usually with the blessing of the city administration. However, not all the protests have been peaceful–some have ended in violent clashes with police and mass brawls with Caucasian and Asian immigrants on the streets.