MOSCOW - Thousands of Russian nationalists marched through Moscow on Friday, shouting anti-immigrant slogans and making Nazi-style salutes in an annual holiday demonstration that has evolved into a show of force for the far right.
Carrying Russian imperial flags, led by a Christian Eastern Orthodox cross and priests chanting hymns, some seven thousand people paraded through the southeastern part of the city.
"The main idea was to protect the rights and freedoms of the Russian people, those people who have roots here," one of the organisers of the march, Dmitry Dyomushkin, said. "Our country is dying out and we have to protect ourselves."
Nov. 4 has been known since 2005 as National Unity Day, officially commemorating the 17th century expulsion of Polish invaders, although most Russians still associate it with the Soviet-era Nov. 7 holiday it replaced, which marked the anniversary of the 1917 Communist revolution.
Some men at Friday's demonstration wore masks to hide their faces. Men with shaved heads and black boots gave Nazi salutes. Others held up flares as helicopters circled overhead.