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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

These Days, Easter Comes Before May 1

While thousands of trade unionists and Communists across the country plan to take part in marches on Monday's May Day holiday, a national poll showed that Orthodox Easter looms far larger in the national consciousness.

Once an important Soviet holiday when every school and office delegated representatives to carry cheerful banners glorifying the Soviet state in an official parade, May Day is now the almost exclusive province of trade unionists and Communists.

In stark contrast to the days of Bolshevik yore, there will be no official May Day parades this Monday. Instead, marches separately organized by the trade unions and the Communists will wend their way through the city May 1, said Vasily Arkhipov, an official at the mayor's office department that supervises mass events. From 9 a.m. to noon, 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya, Tverskaya and Bolshaya Yakimanka streets will be closed to traffic, he said.

Some 84 percent of the respondents in a nation-wide poll of 1,600 people conducted by the VTsIOM polling agency in mid-April were planning to celebrate Orthodox Easter on April 30, but only 45 percent were gearing up for May Day. Last year, 67 percent of those surveyed by VTsIOM said they would celebrate May Day.

The city center will be patrolled by more police than usual - 76,000 of them - on Monday, said Vladimir Vershkov, of the Moscow police press center. He declined to say how many police usually patrol the area. Moscow's police were placed Friday on a heightened state of alertness, with increased patrols, that will run through until May 10, said Vershkov.

The trade unions expect 30,000 people to join their march on City Hall, which leaves Belorussky Station at 9 a.m. to culminate in a meeting in front of the mayor's office on Tverskaya Ulitsa, said Mikhail Shmakov, chairman of the federation of trade unions, at a Friday press conference.

Moscow's Communists will celebrate May Day by marching at 10 a.m. from Kaluzhskaya Ploshchad - home to the city's biggest Lenin statue - to Ploshchad Revolyutsii, where they will hold a rally at noon, said Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, in remarks reported by Interfax.

This weekend will be a four-day weekend because Monday and Tuesday are both official holidays to celebrate May Day. After a three-day week, the nation will be blessed with another four-day weekend, from May 6 to May 9, for Victory Day celebrations to mark the 55th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

According to the VTsIOM poll, 67 percent of respondents plan to celebrate Victory Day this year - down from 82 percent last year.