MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) – Thousands of people in Russia’s two largest cities on Sunday took part in rallies in support of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine amid the deepening political crisis in the former Soviet state.
Some 20,000 people participated in a march downtown Moscow, carrying Russian flags and patriotic slogans, according to local police.
The action was called by the ruling United Russia party and authorized by the Moscow authorities.
The demonstrators expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people in “turbulent times.”
“We want to assure our compatriots in Ukraine that we will not abandon them in trouble,” Andrei Bocharov, head of the executive committee of the All-Russia Popular Front, told reporters during the march.
A similar action took place earlier on Sunday in St. Petersburg. The event gathered around 15,000 people, local authorities reported.
Meanwhile, police in Moscow and St. Petersburg detained earlier on Sunday dozens of people protesting against military intervention in Ukraine.
Police said some 50 protesters were detained for "attempts to violate public order" at an unauthorized rally near the headquarters of the Defense Ministry in downtown Moscow.
According to police, the demonstrators carried posters saying “No to war” and Ukrainian flags.
An unspecified number of anti-war protesters were arrested at a similar action in St. Petersburg, local media reported.