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May Day Protests

mayday.jpgProtests and celebrations were held all over the world yesterday to mark May Day. Russia saw a number of protests across the country, with numbers ranging from “more than two million” to “thousands”, with 30,000 recorded as having marched in Moscow alone. The largest demonstration reported was a 20,000-strong march organized by trade unionists and the United Russia party in Moscow, and one idyllic report says “thousands of trade union members held flowers and waved blue and white flags as they marched through the city centre under sunny skies.” Many people protested against soaring inflation, with prices in Russia having already risen by more than 6% this year. One report says worries about soaring prices are “overshadowing official calls for unity a week ahead of Vladimir Putin’s departure from the Kremlin.” By all accounts, the anti-Kremlin march in St. Petersburg, joined by Garry Kasparov, was “rare”. Despite many accounts of peaceful protests, there is clearly an undercurrent of more serious problems. Kasparov is quoted as saying, “The party of power is not ashamed that its members are millionaires. These are the millionaires who robbed the country.” And United Russia may have organized the largest demonstration, but today’s Washington Post today quotes a provincial Russian businessmen: “I had to get a United Russia membership card. It is now an entry ticket to official contacts and protects you from problems, exactly like the Communist Party card worked in the Soviet Union.PHOTO: Participants of a Labour Day rally hold flags and balloons, Podolsk, 20 km. outside Moscow, Russia, 01 May 2008. More then 10.000 people participated in the Labour Day rally in Podolsk. EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV