Concerns about far-right demonstrations have overshadowed National Unity day in Russia. There have been clashes between hardline nationalists and anti-racist activists in St Petersburg. The far-right had originally planned big parades through the centre of major Russian cities to mark the holiday. But Moscow and St Petersburg authorities banned any marches to prevent a repeat of last year’s events, when neo-Nazis paraded through the capital chanting racist slogans.
They allowed only small groups of nationalists to gather in fixed locations away from the city centres. There were also illegal counter-demonstrations in Moscow. It is unclear how many people were arrested. President Vladimir Putin led the ceremonies in Red Square, commemorating Russian war heroes. The occasion marks Russia’s liberation in 1612 from Polish invaders. The Kremlin introduced the holiday last year to replace the traditional November 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.