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7 Sep, 2008 17:01

Moscow’s birthday bash draws crowds

The Russian capital held its 861st birthday party this weekend, and the authorities say about seven million Muscovites took part in anniversary events.

Moscow's main shopping street, Tverskaya, is usually jammed with cars and pedestrians. But this weekend it was heaving with people enjoying the festivities to celebrate the city's 861st anniversary.

Some of Russia's most influential figures were there, including politicans, scientists, businessmen, Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov and, of course, President Dmitry Medvedev.

Authorities claim to have laid on around 5,000 events in different parts of the city: musical performances, theatrical shows, competitions, festivals, exhibitions and more.

Each one was dedicated not only to Moscow's birthday, but to the new generation of Russians. That’s because 2008 has been named the year of the family in the country.

The city’s mayor, Yury Luzhkov, says Moscow’s population is growing.

“Last year around 100,000 children were born in Moscow. It's a victory that we've been awaiting for 18 years. And this year the figure will be even higher,” he said.

Earlier, Mayor Luzhkov announced this year's city day would be free from politics. And it was, with no political rallies organized in the city. In fact, the only demonstration was the annual students march across the capital, which attracted around 100,000 people.

Given the numbers taking part in street parties, security measures were stepped up. About 12,500 police officers were put on duty to maintain order on Sunday alone.

The two-day holiday ended with a final concert on Red Square, in front of the Kremlin. Some of Russia's most famous musicians took part, making it almost as grand as the occasion it self.