Police Detain Demonstrators As Russians Mark National Unity Day
Russian police detained at least four nationalist protesters in Moscow on November 4 at an antigovernment rally coinciding with celebrations of Russia's National Unity Day holiday, according to a monitoring group.
Three organizers of the nationalist rally in Moscow's Lyublino district, on the city's southeastern outskirts, were also detained, according to OVD-Info, an independent group that monitors crackdowns on demonstrations.
The Lyublino rally is one of two state-sanctioned demonstrations in Moscow. Russian monarchists are staging another rally in Shchukino, on the northwestern outskirts of the capital.
The rallies coincide with the National Unity Day holiday, which was established by the Kremlin more than 10 years ago to replace communist-era celebrations of the Bolshevik Revolution anniversary.
Authorities have permitted marche s and rallies in 12 Russian cities, including St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.
Putin has used the holiday to promote patriotism and seek to consolidate society and strengthen the Kremlinâs grip on a vast, diverse country.
Celebrations in recent years have been marred by antigovernment rallies and scuffles between protesters and riot police.
Last year, authorities detained over 70 demonstrators after nationalists gathered in Lyublino for an antigovernment rally.
While Putin has promoted a patriotic brand of nationalism, the Kremlin is wary of hard-line ethnic Russian or Slavic nationalists, many of whom are disenchanted with his leadership.
The government has prevented them from marching in central Moscow in recent years.
National Unity Day is a national holiday created by Putin in 2005 to celebrate a Russian victory over Polish forces in 1612. It took the place of Soviet-era commemorations of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which are held on November 7.