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Massive crowds of ultra-nationalists call for Putin's ouster.
Over 5,000 Russian nationalists marched through Moscow today demanding the resignation of President Vladimir Putin, according to The Los Angeles Times.
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The rally, held on Russia's Day of National Unity, was permitted by the government -- unlike most anti-Putin demonstrations, observed the LA Times.
"Putin is afraid of us," march organizer Alexander Belov said, according to the Associated Press. "He feels his time is ending because the future belongs to us. We will chase out the occupiers from the Kremlin."
Putin recently took office for his third term following a controversial election denounced by the opposition as rigged.
The protesters, many of whom were wearing Cossack uniforms and waving flags from Russia's imperial empire, marched peacefully for four miles, going from the Moscow River to Gorky Park, said the LA Times, noting that police mostly ignored "numerous chants that were filled with ethnic hatred."
Demonstrators called on the government to stem the flow of immigrants from Central Asia and Eastern Europe, said Al Jazeera. They also accused the Kremlin of discrimminating against its Slav population, said AP.
Andrei Piontkovsky of Moscow's System Analysis Institute told the LA Times that Russia's nationalist agenda has changed, saying they no longer seek to "expand Russia, they don’t want to hear about its greater Eurasian status -- Putin’s favorite game." Instead, he said, they're upset by the "troublesome North Caucasus," where Russia is currently fighting a rising Islamic insurgency, adding that the region's "inhabitants they refuse to acknowledge as Russian citizens.”
Therefore, anti-Putin sentiment was strong among marchers. "We beat Hitler, we will beat Putin," AP cited some protesters as chanting.
Belov said some 20,000 people had turned out for the event, but Moscow police said 6,000 people marched and 2,500 had assembled in Gorky Park, according to Al Jazeera.
Authorities refused a request from the Federation of Migrants of Russia that today's event be banned on the grounds it could incite ethnic unrest, said AP.
The event was timed to coincide with events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Day of National Unity marking Russia's 1612 freedom from Polish invasion, said Al Jazeera.