Crimea annexation celebrated at Red Square marches

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Crimea annexation celebrated at Red Square marches

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There was plenty of patriotism on show for May Day in Moscow.

The International Labour Day celebrations returned to Red Square for the first time since the break up of the Communist Soviet Union in 1991.

Coming just weeks after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the event was an opportunity for supporters of President Vladimir Putin to demonstrate their approval .

Signs and banners proclaimed “Patriots support their president!”, “Trust Putin” and “Putin is right!”. The march took place with Putin’s approval ratings at their highest level since 2010.

Andrei Isaev, a lawmaker from the president’s party addressed the crowd, hammering home the point: “This year Russia was joined by two new members of the Federation – Crimea and Sevastopol. We welcome them!”

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Rossiya 24 TV that more than 100,000 people had marched through Red Square. “This is not by chance, because there is a patriotic uplift and a good mood in the country,” he said.

Nationwide an estimated two million people were on the streets in Labour Day rallies.

Russian television also showed footage of a May Day parade in Crimea’s capital Simferopol, with Russian flags and banners reading “Crimea is Russia. Welcome home.”

Away from the cameras of state TV opposition and human rights groups also held demonstrations in Russian cities.