MOSCOW - Thousands of black-clad Russian nationalists marched through central Moscow on Sunday, marking a "National Unity Day" holiday created by Vladimir Putin by calling for an end to his rule and voicing hostility to ethnic minorities.
Putin instituted the holiday in 2005 to replace the annual Soviet-era celebration of the Bolshevik revolution. But civil rights activists say his own flirtation with ethnic nationalism has stoked a rise in far-right violence, and is partly to blame for the hijacking of the holiday by hardline militants.
The marchers, mainly young men with closely cropped hair in black leather jackets, shouted "Russia without Putin" and anti-immigrant slogans, carrying Russian Orthodox icons, waving imperial flags and chanting "Russia for Russians."
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