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Nationalists celebrate most actively new Russian holiday — Day of National Unity

November 02, 2012, 14:18 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, November 2 (Itar-Tass) — One of newest Russian holidays — the Day of National Unity — failed so far, as it was contemplated, to oust the revolutionary holiday on November 7 from the minds of the Russians. Although this holiday actually turned in ‘the Day of Nationalist’, as the organizations, which adhere to nationalistic views, celebrate it most actively.

Russian citizens will celebrate the Day of National Unity on November 4 already for the eighth time, but this new holiday still remains just an extra day-off for most Russians. The Russians do not see much sense to celebrate the events, which took place in the Russian history 400 years ago, just being happy about an opportunity to have a longer weekend. This year the holiday falls on Sunday that means that three days-off are ahead.

This national holiday was instituted in memory about the feat of the people’s militia, who liberated Moscow from the Polish invaders in 1612. Meanwhile, this day is also a holiday on the church calendar. The Russian Orthodox Church venerates the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God on this day for about 400 years, as this icon, according to the legend, helped the militiamen.

According to the idea of the Russian state authorities the Day of National Unity as a holiday of the whole civil society should have ousted the most popular Soviet holiday that is the anniversary of the October Revolution in 1917 from the life of people in modern Russia. However, the sociological surveys showed that the authorities failed to attain this goal fully.

According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM), the number of people informed about the holiday, which is celebrated in Russia on November 4, is growing gradually, though it leaves much to be desired. The share of respondents, who are unaware about this holiday, went down from 51% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. However, fewer Russians (from 16% to eight percent) can recall its exact name. Some people traditionally consider this day as the holiday of the October Revolution (two percent) and as an alternative to November 7 (one percent).

Few people know about the 1612 events, which are generally studied in the compulsory Russian history course in the secondary school. Some 77% of respondents cannot describe these events. However, the correct answer can give already 14% (ten percent a year ago) now.

The public opinion poll, which the portal Superjob conducted, showed that 61% of respondents consider this day just as a day-off. Only each tenth Russian takes November 4 as an official national holiday.

According to the Levada Centre, only 16% of Russians, mainly young people, are going to celebrate the Day of National Unity this year.

The point is in “unsuccessful ideological grounds for the holiday,” the Novye Izvestia daily quoted Levada Centre expert Alexei Levinson as saying. “People believe that there is no event related with this day in the history of the country and, therefore, they consider it quite artificial and fanciful,” he said. The sociologist noted that the enactment of the law on the Day of National Unity in 2004 was accompanied with “the attempt to speculate on anti-Polish and anti-Lithuanian moods,” and today these issues are already not topical.

The expert noted that the November 7 holiday is closer for representatives of the elder generation, because “a greater part of their life” is linked with it.

On November 4, the political parties invite people to enjoy themselves, for instance, dance in the centre of the city, while the nationalists will go in a march in downtown Moscow and tens of other Russian cities.

However, the Communists are getting ready as usual to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution with marches and rallies on November 7. Meanwhile, the United Russia Party is recently trying to celebrate such national holidays sooner with concerts or mass gatherings than with purely political actions.

The nationalists organize the Russian March already traditionally on this day. The Russian state authorities proposed two routes – in the district Lyublino on the outskirts of Moscow and in the very centre of the city on the Yakimanskaya and Krymskaya embankments.

For the last three years the Russian Marches, which are timed to the Day of National Unity, were held in Lyublino, but this year the nationalists decided to change the usual distant venue, despite the fact that the route in the centre of the city is shorter and more complicated in terms of security. The authorities expect that no more than 10,000 people will participate in an action of the nationalists, but the organizers expect three times more people to come.

Meanwhile, Moscow residents, representatives of the public organizations sent a letter to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, asking “to keep public accord and not to permit any events similar to the Russian March in Moscow, the capital of multinational Russia.” “This event is held each time under nationalistic slogans, as well as the Nazi symbols that insult the feelings of the Muscovites, whose fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers saved our Motherland at the cost of their life from the fascist plague during the Great Patriotic War,” the letter runs. The authors of the letter are convinced that the Russian March and the ideology propagated by its organizers may spur up the escalation of interethnic conflicts,” and “instead of the consolidation of people, who live in Moscow, a split in our multinational and multi-confessional society may be provoked on the Day of National Unity.”

The Russian Federation of Migrants also appealed to the mayor to cancel the Russian March. “The Russian March does not suit us,” head of the federation Majumder Muhammad Amin told the Izvestia daily. “Tomorrow the Chechens will come out for a march, and Dagestani natives – the day after tomorrow. The name of this event poses a threat to multinational Russia,” he noted.

If they do not obtain the cancellation of the Russian March, the labour migrants will just seek to change its date and venue.

Just for the case representatives of the diasporas decided to inform their compatriots, that it is better for them not to go out in the streets without any special need, not to use the public transport and not to turn up at the railway stations on Sunday.