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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 17:51 GMT
Russian marchers defy Moscow ban
Supporters of a Russian national revival party hold their flags during the rally
The Moscow rally drew fewer protesters than predicted
Ultra-nationalists and far-right demonstrators have rallied in the Russian capital, Moscow, defying a ban on their march by the city's mayor.

Fewer than 2,000 protesters turned up - lower than expected - and dozens were arrested, local media reported.

Some carried religious icons, others gave Nazi-style salutes as they delivered a message of opposition to immigrants and immigrant workers.

There was a huge police presence for the march on National Unity Day.

'Ideology of lies'

Protesters gathered in a central Moscow square, met by several hundred police officers, some in riot gear.

One banner read: "Don't confuse German fascists with Russian patriots."

The protesters called for special privileges for ethnic Russians and more restrictions on immigrant workers.

Moscow riot police
There was a huge police presence at the Moscow protest

One protest organiser, Alexander Belov, said there were demonstrations in more than 20 cities - including St Petersburg, Krasnodar in southern Russia and Novosibirsk in Siberia.

Police in St Petersburg reportedly broke up a fight between right and left-wing protesters, detaining dozens.

A counter-protest in Moscow by left-wing demonstrators drew about 500 people carrying banners with slogans such as "Russian Anti-Fascist Front" and "I am Russian and therefore not a fascist."

One left-wing protester, Svetlana Gannushkina, said: "We have to protest this ideology of lies and hate,"

About 30 people were also arrested at a demonstration in Kiev, in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, when fighting broke out between pro-Russian and nationalist Ukraine demonstrators.

The BBC's Steven Eke in Moscow says organised protests by far-right groups in Russia have become increasingly common in recent years.

The anti-immigration message is increasingly catching on in Russia, he says, and Russian society at large seems to be becoming increasingly intolerant of minorities.

Monitoring groups say 39 people have been killed and hundreds attacked so far this year in apparent hate crimes.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov had banned the rally in the capital this year in a bid to prevent any repeat of last year's demonstration when hundreds of ultra-nationalists shouted far-right slogans.

That march dominated the new 4 November Public Unity holiday which replaced the 7 November public holiday marking the 1917 Bolshevik uprising.

Violence flares in Moscow and St Petersburg

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25 Oct 06 |  Europe
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24 Dec 04 |  Europe

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