June 12 is Russia Day – a national holiday celebrating the anniversary of the Russian Federation becoming a sovereign state in 1990. The national holiday itself was declared two years later by then President, Boris Yeltsin, and is also known as the country’s Independence Day. As it has fallen on a Sunday this year, Monday will also be a public holiday.
To mark the event, President Dmitry Medvedev gave national awards to prominent Russian writers, scientists and humanitarian workers. These awards are part of the annual celebrations.
However, the holiday is not popular with everyone. Many Russians see it as commemorating a negative historical event – the day the Soviet Union was dissolved, which lead to unemployment and poverty. Some refuse to mark the occasion. Left-wing protesters in Moscow called for the return of what they see as the real Russia – the former Soviet one.