Crackdown Fears Ignored As Thousands March On Moscow

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Tens of thousands of Russians have marched through Moscow yesterday in the first anti-war rally since fighting began between pro Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army in April.

Involving several high profile opposition activists, the march condemned Russia’s presence in fuelling the Ukrainian conflict and comes amid claims the Kremlin has sent in regular troops to back Russian separatists already on the ground.

To date its believed the ongoing conflict has claimed 2,700 mainly Ukrainian lives.

Recent crackdowns on opposition to Moscow’s handling of the situation in the Ukraine has made the rally all the more significant with as many as 50,000 believed to have attended in Moscow alone.

However Russia’s national news website ‘RT’ played down that figure, suggesting a turnout of 5,000.

Protesters marched from Pushkin Square to Sakharov Avenue in a river of Russian and Ukrainian flags. Members of opposition parties such as Yabloko and Parnas were also in the crowd.

Demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Glory to Ukraine" and "No to war."

The peaceful show of force doubled as a protest of an ongoing Kremlin-backed media blackout of the conflict, and claims of biased reporting on the political and military situation in the Ukraine.

Smaller counter protests were also staged yesterday in central Moscow in support of Russia’s stance in the Ukraine.

Pro-Russian support is waning though, with activists in another 30 cities across the world denouncing Russian involvement in the Ukraine.

The rallies in major cities such as New York, Paris and Kiev coincided with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.

New Matilda

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