[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

The Moscow Times, May 6, 2004

Over 1.4 Million Rally on May Day

By Anneli Nerman

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
Communists and their supporters rallying under the watchful eyes of security guards near the Bolshoi Theater on Saturday.
More than 1 million people gathered across the country for May Day rallies, while many others enjoyed the start of a four-day holiday.

In Moscow, various demonstrations and marches competed for space and the attention of the 44,000 estimated participants Saturday.

Several thousand Communist Party supporters waving red flags and carrying portraits of Lenin voiced the traditional May Day calls for fair wages, pensions and social guarantees.

They also took the chance to speak out against the war in Iraq.

"Today it is important to protest against the war unleashed by America and NATO in Iraq," and for "peace and friendship on earth, and social guarantees," Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said.

Meanwhile, members of several pro-democracy parties and human rights movements gathered at a memorial to victims of Soviet repression and spoke against what they see as a police state in the making.

With many of Moscow's Soviet-era satellites joining the European Union on Saturday, the Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky stressed that Russia's future also lies in integration with Europe.

"Many former Soviet citizens became a part of Europe. It is also our way into the future. We will always be ourselves but ... the values of freedom, democracy and human rights -- these are our common values," Yavlinsky said.

Ivan Sekretarev / AP
Police standing next to a huge poster of Putin at a Moving Together demonstration.

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions, which was joined by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, marched under the slogan "Good wages are a way toward overcoming poverty."

Trade union leader Mikhail Shmakov complained that the minimum wage was "four times lower than the cost of the consumer goods basket," and wage arrears have become "chronic," Itar-Tass reported.

Meanwhile, the pro-presidential youth party Moving Together wheeled a four-meter-high portrait of President Vladimir Putin at the head of their march.

The Interior Ministry reported that more than 1.4 million people participated in May Day rallies in about 950 cities.

In Moscow, which has been rocked by several suicide bombings in the past year, some 4,000 police and soldiers were charged with keeping order.

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, hundreds of holiday-makers swapped the conventional May Day slogans for a sing-along led by key opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine.

A disc jockey lured people to a microphone set up on Independence Square in central Kiev, as holiday-makers in festive clothes, clutching orange balloons with the words "Yes, Yushchenko!" on them, lined up for a chance to sing.

"We want to sing, we are tired of political rallies," said Vadym Shkavro, 33, lining up with his 2-year-old daughter Lena in his arms.

Nearby, a young couple posed in the sunshine for a street painter.

About 20,000 Ukrainians took part in Communist- and Socialist-organized rallies in Kiev, and more than 400 rallies were held around the country.

In neighboring Moldova, President Vladimir Voronin reduced the price of a loaf of bread by 5 percent to 2.85 lei (23 cents) for the day as a May Day gesture.

Without explaining how it would happen, Voronin also said he would raise the average monthly salary, which currently stands at about 850 lei ($70), to 1,215 lei ($100) by the end of the year.

See also:

the original at

Freedom of Assembly

The Moscow Times, May 6, 2004

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Project Director: Vyacheslav Erohin e-mail: admin@yabloko.ru Director: Olga Radayeva, e-mail: english@yabloko.ru
Administrator: Vlad Smirnov, e-mail: vladislav.smirnov@yabloko.ru