Thousands of Russian nationalists marched in Moscow on Monday in an annual protest against migrants.
The march, sanctioned by city authorities, was staged in a blue-collar district of Moscow, similar to the one where mass rioting broke out three weeks ago over the stabbing of a Russian young man by a migrant from Azerbaijan.
Police counted about 8,000 participants in the “Russian March,” up by 1,000 from last year. Organisers said more than 20,000 had taken part.
The marchers, mostly young people, carried flags of different nationalist groups and slogans, such as “Today, a Mosque -- Tomorrow, Jihad,” “Russian Power for Russia,” and “Russians Unite!”
Police said they detained 30 people for “wearing masks, committing minor public order offences, shouting Nazi slogans and displaying banned symbols.”
Nationalists also rallied in more than a dozen cities across Russia.
Ironically, the nationalist “Russian March” takes place every year on Russia’s National Unity Day holiday, which was introduced by the Kremlin to replace the Soviet-era holiday celebrating the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
Ultranationalists have hijacked the new holiday taking advantage of growing popular resentment over uncontrolled flows of migrants from the former Soviet states of Central Asia and the Caucasus, which have a visa-free regime with Russia and where the economic situation is much worse than in petrodollar-awash Russia.
According to the United Nations, Russia has the world’s second largest number of immigrants after the United States. Officially, Russia has over 11 million legal migrant workers and about 3 million illegal immigrants. Independent estimates cite much higher figures.