In Russia a traditionally festive May Day dates from Soviet times. However the number of people expected to turn out for workers’ solidarity was only a fraction of the millions who marched back in the days of the USSR.
One group of people danced in a Moscow street as a group of musicians played accordions.
“I hope that, God willing, I’ll be able to keep working and that they won’t kick me out of the factory because I’m too old,” joked a woman who gave her name as Stepanida. “I wish for peace and quiet in our country and across the world.”
Many Russians take advantage of two public holidays in quick succession in early May to take time off work, although fewer people than usual are thought to have gone away this year.
May Day brought tens of thousands onto the streets in Moscow. Over the holiday season thousands of events are being organised in the Russian capital.
“The atmosphere is excellent. It’s a holiday for us, the beginning of something new, bright and joyful,” said one woman, attending a demonstration with her young son.
Trade unions marched through Moscow’s main streets, alongside members of the ruling United Russia party and the All-Russian National Front.
One union leader said the overriding appeal was for decent work, and a decent salary and pension.