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Thousands protest end to Soviet holiday

Nov. 8, 2005 at 3:32 AM

MOSCOW, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- At least 11,000 demonstrators marched through downtown Moscow to protest the cancellation of a national holiday dear to the hearts of communists.

For the first time in decades, Monday's anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, which led to the founding of the Soviet Union, was not celebrated as a national holiday. Communists and other leftists marched down Tverskaya Street carrying red flags, portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx, and signs criticizing President Vladimir Putin for doing away with the holiday.

"This was a move by a brainless government," said Maya Pulkanova, a 70-year-old pensioner, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.

Late last year the Russian government removed Nov. 7 as a national holiday, replacing it with the Nov. 4 People's Unity Day, which supposedly commemorates the 1612 liberation of Moscow from Polish occupation.

However, a nationwide survey taken last month found only 8 percent of Russians were aware of the new holiday and 63 percent opposed the abolition of the Nov. 7 holiday.

Similar protests, though smaller in scale, took place throughout Russia Monday.

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