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1.5m participate in May Day march in Moscow

1.5m participate in May Day march in Moscow

MOSCOW: Almost a million and a half people turned out in central Moscow on Monday for the annual May Day parade, many more than in past years, Russian police said.

“Nearly 1.5 million people marched on May 1,” police said in a statement quoted by Interfax news agency.

Under clear skies, marchers waving flags and carrying balloons poured onto Red Square by the Kremlin. Only 100,000 people took part in the annual Labour Day march in 2015 and 2016, police figures showed.

Some of the marchers waved communist flags and pictures of Soviet founding father Lenin in memory of the old days.

Vladimir Nikolayevich, a war veteran marching in uniform, described the May Day parade as an “immortal” event.

Other marchers chanted anti-government slogans. Vladislav Ryazantsev, a leader of the Left Block movement, said “we are against (President Vladimir) Putin, but not as a person.” In all some 2.6 million Russians joined May Day marches across the country on Monday, authorities said.

Tear gas in France as Le Pen, Macron hold rallies

With just six days until a French presidential runoff that could define Europe’s future, far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron held high-stakes rallies Monday that overlapped with May Day marches and underscored the fact that jobs are voters’ No. 1 concern.

France votes for a new president on Sunday, a ballot being watched closely by financial markets and France’s neighbours as a test of the global populist wave. While Le Pen got an endorsement from her father on Monday, Macron held an emotional meeting with a Moroccan man whose father died years ago when he was thrown off a Paris bridge by far-right skinheads.

A May Day march attended by thousands of people in Paris was disrupted as scores of hooded youths threw gasoline bombs at riot police in full gear, who responded with tear gas and truncheons. One police officer was seen spraying a troublemaker in the face.

While supporters from fringe movements often disrupt protest marches in the French capital, they usually don’t carry signs. Some of the violent protesters at the May Day event had signs referring to the presidential election and expressing dissatisfaction with both candidates in Sunday’s runoff election. Workers in the union-organised march want to block Le Pen from getting into power, but offered differing methods on Monday.

Police detain 165 in Istanbul

Turkish police on Monday fired tear gas and plastic bullets at protesters seeking to march to Istanbul’s Taksim Square to celebrate May Day, in defiance of an official ban.

Istanbul police authorities said on Monday they arrested 165 people in connection with the protests, including 139 people for “unauthorised marches”.

Police tried to stop around 200 protesters in the Gayrettepe district on the European side of Istanbul who wanted to walk to the famous Taksim square in spite of the ban by city authorities.

The protesters — made up of left-wing groups — unfurled anti-government banners against the result of the April 16 referendum, which handed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expanded powers.“Long Live May Day, No to dictator!” the banners read.

Turkish authorities imposed a ban on any demonstration at Taksim square, with police sealing off the avenue with barricades and halting traffic.

Among those detained were two women who attempted to penetrate the ban and unfurl banners at the square, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2017

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