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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Muscovites Celebrate City's 855th Anniversary

Itar-TassRunners participating in the 12th Moscow International Marathon on Sunday, an event that drew more than 2,000 competitors.
More than a million people celebrated City Day over the weekend in Moscow as the city center became a concert-filled pedestrian zone.

Officially, City Day began Saturday with the raising of the city flag at Tverskaya Ploshchad opposite the Mayor's Office against the backdrop of a map of the city fashioned out of 7,000 flowers.

Ten newly married couples paraded down Tverskaya Ulitsa in classic automobiles before being given their marriage certificates on stage and being loaded down with trees -- that were then planted at Poklonnaya Gora -- and a barrel of honey that came from the mayor's own beehive.

City Day, Luzhkov said at the ceremony, "is more and more taking on the meaning of a state holiday," which is "fair as Moscow in grief and joy will always be together with Russia."

The ceremony was attended by Georgy Poltavchenko, the presidential envoy for the Central Federal District; the head of the presidential administration, Alexander Voloshin; First Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko; LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky; and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II. The square was then taken over by a series of theatrical performers and dancers.

The city was officially celebrating its 855th birthday, but Poltavchenko said Moscow does not look its age and "every day looks better and better and younger," Interfax reported.

Calling Moscow one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Poltavchenko said: "This beauty was achieved by Muscovites and in lots of ways is thanks to the care of the mayor of Moscow."

The celebrations were soured by violence and news that a teenager was killed in a clash Saturday near Universitet metro in the southwest of the city. Valery Panikhin, 16, was stabbed to death in a fight between skinheads and fans of rap music, Interfax reported. Two others also suffered knife wounds.

Interfax, citing city police, first reported that 70 people were involved, but decreased the number to 12 by Sunday. Luzhkov, however, said Sunday that 30 people had been detained in connection with the clash. "The police will deal with it and guilty parties will be caught and punished," the mayor said.

Mikhail Metzel / AP

Just-married couples parading down Tverskaya Ulitsa on Saturday during celebrations to mark Moscow's 855th anniversary.

Two teenagers were knifed in a separate incident Saturday near 4 Prospekt Vernadskogo, police said.

About 15 to 20 boys wearing "White Pride" T-shirts were seen on the metro at Kropotkinskaya on Sunday afternoon. Moscow has suffered a number of racist attacks recently, some of which took place on the metro.

Interfax said police reported a total of 142 people detained over the weekend, including 96 for public drunkenness and 16 for hooliganism. Police could not be reached for comment Sunday.

In a separate incident, Interfax reported that eight people were injured, three seriously, when a roller coaster crashed in Gorky Park on Sunday.

Hundreds of events took place all over the city. Some were linked to Sept. 1, which as well as being the official anniversary of the founding of Moscow is Day of Knowledge, traditionally the day when children return to school.

More than 20,000 students paraded from Smolenskaya Ploshchad to Krimsky Most before a concert of student performances in Gorky Park on Sunday. Fireworks over the city were to close out the celebrations late Sunday.

Among the odder sights of the weekend was a parachutist jumping from the Ostankino television tower and Deputy Mayor Valery Shantsev making friends with bikers at the Night Wolves festival. As usual during festivals, the city center lacked the necessary WCs, meaning that many of the side streets off Tverskaya and other parts of the city became temporary toilets.

To ensure that no rain fell during the weekend, the city arranged for the clouds to be seeded, Interfax reported.