Moscow sees thousands march for peace in eastern Ukraine

Huge crowds of protesters took to the streets of the Russian capital to demand peace in Ukraine, in the biggest opposition rally in half a year.

The opposition organizers failed to attract the promised 50,000 for the event, but “there was a very high turnout,” RT’s Anissa Naouai reported from the center of Moscow.

City authorities estimated the turnout at 5,000, but the number voiced by independent monitors – 26,000 – seems more believable, according to Naouai.

The demonstrators carried Ukrainian, Russian, and opposition flags, while chanting “No to war!” and other slogans.

According to Naouai, those marching on Sunday deny Kiev's and Washington’s responsibility for the events in southeastern Ukraine and “see Russia as the aggressor; as the party that is undermining a chance for peace” in the region.

The march traditionally gathered all sorts of opposition groups, with banners of far-right organizations and gay pride flags also noticed in the crowd.

The march began at Puskinskaya Square in central Moscow and concluded after several hours at Prospekt Sakharova. No serious incidents reported.

RIA Novosti / Maxim Blinov

The march was also attended by supporters of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Meanwhile, Interfax reported that several small groups were throwing eggs, tomatoes, and shoes at the opposition demonstrators.

“It’s the first time that the opposition demonstrators have poured onto the streets of Moscow in six months,” Naouai said.

The last protest was held in March after the Ukrainian Republic of Crimea held a referendum which confirmed its desire to part ways with Kiev and reunite with Russia.

Ukraine has been engulfed in violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s military began its crackdown on the southeastern regions of the country after they refused to recognize the country’s new coup-imposed authorities.

The United Nations said that the death toll in the Ukrainian conflict has exceeded 3,000, with this number including the 298 passengers and crew on board the MH17 airliner downed over Donetsk region in July.

The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 260,000, with another 814,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.

The sides agreed a ceasefire during talks in Minsk, Belarus on September 5, but there are still considerable amounts of work to be done for the conflict to be settled peacefully.

Kiev and its backers in the US and EU blame Russia for masterminding the unrest and providing anti-Kiev rebels with weapons and troops.

However, no convincing proof has been provided to back the claims, which have been repeatedly denied by Moscow.