A national holiday declared by Russian President Vladimir Putin to celebrate Russia’s victory over Polish forces in 1612 has become a day of rally for nationalists who have grown tired of perceived corruption and the tyrannical, oppressive practices of government.
“We are against the tyranny of Putin’s regime of occupation which we don’t recognize at all,” screamed a young protester identified only by the name “Artyom” a member of the nationalist group Black Bloc.
Police estimated around 200 people joined this year’s “Unity Day” march although some journalists thought the number was higher.
The protesters were screaming “Putin is a thief” and “freedom for political prisoners”. Russian police dressed in helmets and body armour started to arrest many of the protesters when they started bringing in banners with slogans denouncing Putin and his administration.
Rally organizers maintained that the local government had given them permission to hold the rally and agreed to the use of banners. However, police remained steadfast in their decision to disallow the banners from the rally.
News sources reported that around 70 people were arrested and detained. The Russian police have not issued an official statement on the number of arrests.
President Putin established the holiday in 2005 to replace the Soviet- era celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Nationalists traditionally schedule their rallies on November 4 while those who subscribe to the communist ideology celebrate the event on November 7.
Russian authorities reported that they had also arrested several supporters of Vyacheslav Maltsev a self- exiled oppositionist of the Kremlin in Moscow on November 3.
The Federal Security Service said the supporters were members of a “conspiratorial cell” of Artpodgotovka or Artillery Bombardment and were planning to attack government buildings in order to start nation-wide riots.