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Mara D. Bellaby, "Russians Mark Revolution Day With Protests"

"Russians Mark Revolution Day With Protests"

Mara D. Bellaby, Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Carrying the Soviet hammer-and-sickle
flag and singing as
they marched, Russians marked the anniversary of the
1917 Bolshevik
Revolution on Sunday in both a celebration of Soviet
times and a protest
against a parliamentary proposal to scrap a
once-revered Soviet holiday.

At least 8,000 Communist Party backers and members of
the ultra-nationalist
National Bolshevik party gathered at a square once
named for Vladimir Lenin
and marched across Moscow toward a statue of Karl
Marx. They bore a giant
portrait of Lenin and banners proclaiming "U.S.S.R. —
our Homeland.''In Red Square, aging veterans wearing long, belted
World War II military
coats marched in formation, retracing the steps they
took in 1941 when
Soviets defiantly celebrated Revolution Day in spite
of the Nazi forces
massed 33 miles outside Moscow.

Some pro-Kremlin lawmakers have proposed replacing the
Nov. 7 holiday with
a new holiday on Nov. 4 to be called National Unity
Day. Russia's lower
house of parliament, the State Duma, is expected to
consider the measure
Wednesday in the first of three required votes.

"This day was and will be a landmark event, and its
celebration cannot be
abolished,'' Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov
said, according to the
ITAR-Tass news agency. "People suffered for this
holiday, and no one has
the right to trample on our history.''

Criticism of President Vladimir Putin's government,
changes to social
benefits and complaints about inequality dominated the

But some also chanted, "America, hands off
Lukashenko!'' a show of support
for the authoritarian leader of neighboring Belarus,
Alexander Lukashenko,
who has resurrected Soviet-era symbols and
institutions and honored
now-disgraced Soviet-era officials. The United States
has accused
Lukashenko of human rights violations and threatened
Belarus with sanctions.

Young protesters, wearing masks, stomped on the flag
of the pro-Kremlin
United Russia party and tried to burn it in
Chelyabinsk, about 950 miles
east of Moscow, Russia's NTV television reported.
Police arrested several
of the protesters, NTV said.

In the Siberian city of Tomsk, Communist Party members
carried posters
reading, "Hands off Nov. 7!'' the Interfax news
agency reported.

A poll of 1,500 Russians by Romir polling agency found
that 77 percent
opposed scrapping the Nov. 7 holiday. The poll had a
margin of error of 3

The holiday was also marked in other former Soviet
republics. Three hundred
elderly people rallied in Bishkek, the capital of
Kyrgyzstan, the only
country in former Soviet Central Asia that has
preserved both the holiday
and a statue of Lenin on one of the capital's main

About 1,000 Ukrainians also marked the Soviet holiday,
but some bystanders
were cynical.

"Those who make revolutions don't like to work,''
said Oksana Levina, a
businesswoman in Kiev. "The principle of equality
kills all initiative.''