Russia’s president-elect Vladimir Putin and outgoing leader Dmitry Medvedev have joined a massive Labour day rally through Moscow.
More than 150,000 people marched in a show of unity between several workers’ unions and the Kremlin, who have had close relations since Soviet times.
The highly unusual joint public appearance by the two leaders even stretched to a pitstop at the Zhiguli bar, a renowned Soviet-era venue for cheap beer.
While some welcomed the opportunity to see Putin before his inauguration next week, others said they planned to use the march to campaign for better workers rights.
Russia’s Communist party, the largest opposition to Putin’s United Russia, held their own more modest rally, with around 3500 people turning out.
“We’ve staged this demo around the following themes: Let’s build an intelligent and strong Russia, let’s chase scoundrels and thieves from corridors of power, and let’s bring a government of national confidence, and a new direction for our country,” said Gennady Zyuganov, Communist Party leader.
Other anti-Putin opponents were noticeably absent from the May Day rallies. Instead, several activist groups are planning a “march of millions” on Sunday, a day before Putin is sworn in for a third term as president.