Tens of thousands celebrate Unity day in Moscow (VIDEO)

Tens of thousands celebrate Unity day in Moscow (VIDEO)
At least 75,000 people gathered in the heart of Moscow for celebrations to mark Unity Day–a holiday introduced under a decade ago to commemorate the defeat of Polish invaders in 1612.At the same time, on the city’s outskirts,a nationalist march took place

Celebrations gripped Moscow’s city center with tens of thousands marching through the central Tverskaya street, holding Russian flags to mark National Unity Day, celebrated for the ninth time in Russia on Tuesday. Police estimated the number of participants at 75,000.

Drummers in red uniforms led the march with the first line of demonstrators carrying a banner with slogan saying "We are United!" Participants in the festivities were wearing St. George's ribbons, one of the symbols of military valor and patriotism in Russia.

Many flags of parties, regions and public organizations were seen fluttering in the air, including the flags of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in Eastern Ukraine.

National Unity Day in Russia has been celebrated every year since November 4, 2005. This holiday is held in the memory of the popular uprising of 1612 when militia led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky expelled Polish occupants from Moscow. Historically, this festival is associated with the end of the Time of Troubles and the Polish-Muscovite War in the 17th century.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and the heads of other confessions, laid flowers in honor of the celebration at the monument to Minin and Pozharsky on Red Square on Tuesday.

Authorized nationalist march goes ahead

Meanwhile, Russian nationalists held their annual “Russian march” in the outskirts of the city. The march was authorized by the authorities and turned out to be rather peaceful with only several arrests for attempting to violate public order, Moscow police said.

The organizers said that about 10,000 people were expected to participate, however local police said that the figure was much lower – about 2,000 demonstrators came to the rally.

Participants waved traditional black, white and yellow flags, chanting slogans such as “One for all and all for one,” “Russian unity,” “Freedom and justice for Russian people,” and “Freedom for Belov.

The reference to Belov was dedicated to one of the leaders of the "Russian" nationalist movement, Aleksandr Belov, recently charged with money laundering.

At the same time in Kiev, Russian nationalists were to conduct a “Slavic march” authorized by authorities. The organizers, the same as in the Moscow’s “Russian march”, said the said slogan of the march was to be “Slavs United.” It gathered a few people, but quickly dispersed.