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MOSCOW, March 10, /ITAR-TASS/. Over 46,000 people rallied across Russia on Monday, March 10, in support of Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine.
The biggest rallies took place in Chelyabinsk and Perm (Urals region), each having brought together 15,000 people. Similar rallies were held in Chita (southern Siberia), Vologda and Arkhangelsk (northern Russia). About 7,000 people rallied in Chita, some 5,500 in Vologda and 4,000 in Arkhangelsk.
Rallies in support of Russian compatriots in Ukraine started in Russia on March 2 when tens of thousands of people came to events organised by patriotic youth and veterans’ organisations in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Krasnodar (southern Russia).
A rally in support of the people of Crimea (autonomy seeking independence from Ukraine) also took place in Riga, the capital of Latvia, on Monday. Some 150 people marched through the central part of the city from the French Embassy to the German Embassy and stopped in front of the EU Office in Riga.
“Our mottoes are Freedom to Crimea! Guarantees for the Russian language from Sevastopol to Riga! The people of Crimea have a right to decide their own fate!” the organisers of the rally, the Union of Latvian Russians, told ITAR-TASS.
“The people of Crimea have the same right to self-determination as the dozens of peoples in Europe which have exercised it to create their own states or autonomies. Independence referendums will be held this year in Scotland and Catalonia and two new states may appear on the map of Europe. In strict compliance with European principles only the people of Crimea can decide on their independence or the degree of their autonomy,” the organisers said.
“Big hardships have befallen our brothers and sisters in Crimea. After the victory of West Ukrainian extremists in Kiev, one of the first decisions was directed against the Russian-speaking population. Russian lost the status of regional language. People living in eastern Ukraine were excluded from the process of forming a new government. The threat of repressions from the radicals who had fought their way to power was hanging over Crimea. In order to survive, preserve their dignity and protect their interests, the people of Crimea seized initiative, and we support them on that. We demand that the European Union use its levers of influence to ensure the right of the people of Crimea to self-determination and protection of its vital interests,” the organisers of the rally in Riga said.