Russian National Unity Day brings celebration but also controversy

Russian National Unity Day brings celebration but also controversy
By Seamus Kearney
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A monument to Grand Prince Vladimir has been erected near the Kremlin


A controversial statue of the prince who brought Christianity to the precursor of the Russian state has been unveiled by President Putin.

The monument to Grand Prince Vladimir near the Kremlin comes on what’s known as National Unity Day.

But the prince was actually also the ruler of territory in modern-day Ukraine, from where the Russian state later emerged.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the crowds: “Today it is our duty to jointly resist the threats of our times, leaning on spiritual commandments, and the invaluable traditions of unity and agreement, and to go forward, ensuring the continuation of our thousand-year-long history.”

National Unity Day was created by President Putin in 2004 to replace the day that commemorated the Bolsheviks seizure of power in 1917.

But it was not all celebration.

Several hundred far right nationalists held a march to protest against President Putin, accusing him of spending more on the military than the welfare of ordinary Russians.

Yuri Gorsky, a national leader, said: “For a Russian nationalist the enemy is within. It’s the bureaucrat and the political elite that have gathered around Putin thanks to wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine.

Demonstrators shouted “Putin out”.

Some protesters also complained about migrants being allowed to enter Russia.

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