Tourists and students from the North Caucasus joined thousands of Nashi activists near Red Square to remember the Beslan school seizure with lit candles and a moment of silence on Saturday.
At least 7,000 people gathered on Vasilyevsky Spusk, alongside St. Basil's Cathedral, to take part in a silent rally organized by the pro-Kremlin youth organization Nashi, or Us, which had placed black posters on public transportation and elsewhere around the city urging Moscow residents to join. The posters made no mention of Nashi's involvement.
"I came here because I simply could not be anywhere else on this day," said Tatyana Kopylova, 46, of the Moscow region town of Elektrostal. As she spoke, tears rolled down her cheeks. She clutched four red carnations in one hand and a candle in the other.
Kopylova was not aware who organized the event and said she had learned about it from a poster in the metro.
Nashi organized similar silent rallies in 30 other cities across the country, including St. Petersburg, Volgograd and Yekaterinburg, group spokesman Ivan Mastovich told Interfax.
About 200 people on Friday held a demonstration organized by human rights and opposition groups, apparently hoping to counter the Nashi rally. Participants chanted "Shame!" and called for the resignation of Putin's top police and security officials.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.