Activists in St Petersburg have taken to the streets to march against hate and fascism. They say they want to draw attention to rising nationalism and xenophobia in Russia.
Boris Vishnevsky, from the opposition party Yabloko, believes the Russian government is encouraging hatred: “Xenophobia and hatred of everything ‘other’ is practically in the government’s ideology. Moreover, recently, xenophobia and other ideas have become popular even in liberal circles. And it’s really important that today people with liberal and democratic views go to the streets and protest against this infection in our country”
Activist Sofia Lyubarova agreed: “What’s happening right now is horrible harassment and meetings against immigrants and LGBT. It’s simply terrible. It’s sparked by the government to take our attention away from horrible theft from us.”
Many Russians are against the influx of migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia, although most work low-paying jobs that few local residents want.
Last month, thousands of people rioted in St Petersburg after an ethnic Russian was murdered, allegedly at the hands of an immigrant.
Campaigners were also marking the birthday of human rights campaigner Nikolai Girenko, killed in in 2004 by neo-Nazis.
More anti-fascism rallies are planned across the country on Monday