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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: November 4, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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The annual march of Russian nationalists for "Unity Day" has begun today in Lyublino, a suburb of Moscow, with an estimated 2,000 people -- far fewer participants than the state-run action created to coopt it,  a march in the center of Moscow that has drawn 85,000, the Russian media reported.

Two "Russian March" organizers have already been detained. This morning November 4, police approached Anton Smirnov, one of the organizers, at the start of the march and asked him to come with them to sign some papers, reported. He was then arrested and his current location is not known, said another organizer, Dmitry Dyomushkin.

Dyomushkin himself was detained on November 3, Kommersant reported, and complained that it was politically motivated to derail his participation in the march.

Yet another organizer, Yury Gorsky, was twice detained on October 30. Under Russian law, if a person is twice charged for an administrative offensive, he cannot be issued a permit to demonstrate.

On October 28, the Moscow City Court ruled that the movement Russkiye [ethnic Russians] was extremist and banned its activity in Russia. Dyomushkin announced that he would contest the court decision, but nevertheless said his group was disbanding.

Despite the court ruling and the detentions, the march went ahead today. estimated about 1,500-2,000 participants, a steep decrease compared to past years. In 2013, we reported 5,000 took part, and as many as 10,000 in past years. Participants say that the official parade was designed to hijack and tame their supporters, and that the FSB has recruited informants to sabotage them.

Particpants wore ushanki, Russian fur hats with ear flaps and carried nationalist signs, although less militant than in past  years, possibly in light of the court ruling.

Translation: Nationalists in "ushanki" conduct the "Russian March" outside of Moscow.

Artyom Sizov of captured some protesters bearing a sign with the word "Fatherland" in large letters, but wearing sneakers that were likely manufactured abroad; one says "NY" in the colors of the Mets.

2015-11-04 17:12:55

Just as last year, there were some in the Russian March in Lyublino protesting the war in Ukraine. "DNR, Burn in Flames!" chanted some marchers who opposed the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" (DNR). Others protested unpaid or low pages. Black Bloc members were also visible. While some of these might be counter-demonstrators, said that during the organized speeches, people also opposed the wars in Ukraine and Syria as harmful to Russia and cursed the "Kremlin puppets" in the State Duma -- they were indistinguishable from some "white ribbon" rallies of the liberal opposition, said

Meanwhile, in the center of Moscow, approved demonstrators took part in a march along Tverskaya Street, some playing folk songs on accordians.

2015-11-04 17:13:50

Photo by Sergei Bobylyov/TASS

Aleksandr Zaldostanov, known as "Surgeon," the head of the Night Wolves bikers' club endorsed by President Vladimir Putin, was among the nationalist celebrities at the march.

2015-11-04 17:14:37

Photo by Mikhail Dzhaparidze/TASS

Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the ill-named Liberal Democratic Party of Russia was also present, as were Sergei Mironov, head of the Just Russia faction in parliament and Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. A mother and her nine children from the Crimea were brought on stage, along with a teacher from a school in Simferopol and a Rostov farmer to speak about "prosperity in unity." commented (translation by The Interpreter) about the official march:

The demonstrators walked along Tverskaya Street from the Pushkinskaya metro stop to the Okhotny Ryad metro stop, where a rally and concert took place.

What struck the eye was the large number of young people of the age of freshmen university students. A number of them belong to youth organizations and said they were "organized" for the rally. "We are for everything good against everything bad," said one young man who represented a monarchist youth organization called Georgievets. He was wearing a yellow cape testifying to the fact that he was a member of this organization.

Another marcher told he was from the trade union committee of a Moscow university. Periodically, the young people looked for their leaders -- apparently in order not to get lost in the crowd.

Signs at the march called for the Prosecutor General to investigate the "coup d'etat of 1991" (by which they mean Yeltsin's coming to power) and also ensure that Putin had the authority to "purge the traitors in the government."

While National Unity day has a decidedly Russian cast, the propaganda around it emphasizes the unity and sense of national purpose of Russia's "200 nationalities" or diverse ethnic groups. Speeches at the rally invoked the sense that Russia is surrounded by enemies, notably due to Western sanctions imposed because of Russia's annexation of the Crimea. "The more the pressure, the stronger the concrete" said singer Oleg Gazmanov.

For more photos see's slide show

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick