Vladimir Putin hails consolidation on National Unity Day
Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed consolidation the country has shown amid challenging international situations, as tens of thousands of people paraded in Moscow for unity on Tuesday.
"This year we have been through some tough challenges. Our people responded to those challenges with consolidation and a spiritual and moral upheaval, just as they did many times in the past," Xinhua quoted Putin as telling a reception marking the National Unity Day.
Recalling the origin of the holiday, created to honour those who ended Russia's tragic Time of Trouble over 400 years ago, Putin said the generations have inherited a rule to preserve and protect national interests.
"Failure to bear in mind these national interests may lead to disintegration and ruin of the country; its sovereignty is of the same fundamental value as freedom and democracy," the Kremlin press service quoted him as saying.
The president added that "there is no threat that can force us to forsake our values and ideals".
Putin's remarks came as more than 75,000 people rallied in downtown Moscow, waving banners that read, "We Will Not Give In", "We Await People's Unity", and "Nothing Is Impossible When We Are United".
Police confirmed that supporters of four major parties in the country's parliament, the ruling United Russia, the Russian Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia, participated in the march.
In southeastern Moscow, some 10,000 nationalists held a separate march with no incidents untoward incident reported.
The National Unity Day marks Russia's liberation from Polish- Lithuanian forces. In early November 1612, a militia of about 8, 000 led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky liberated Moscow from the combined forces.
Putin also laid flowers at the monument to Minin and Pozharsky on the Red Square.