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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Brace for Holiday Rallies

City authorities are bracing for more than 30,000 people to take to the streets Sunday for demonstrations by groups of various political stripes for People's Unity Day.

City Hall has granted permission for rallies to more than 10 groups, including ultranationalist youth groups, anti-immigration organizations and the liberal Yabloko party. But it warned ultranationalist, "borderline extremist" groups not to break the law.

"Otherwise the city's law enforcement authorities will act immediately and forcefully," City Hall spokesman Mikhail Solomentsev said, Interfax reported.

People's Unity Day, created by President Vladimir Putin in 2005, is supposed to commemorate the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders in 1612. The holiday replaced another national holiday, the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which had been celebrated on Nov. 7.

Putin touted the holiday as an opportunity to celebrate solidarity among all Russians. But its inaugural celebration two years ago saw some 5,000 ultranationalists march in central Moscow, some carrying signs with swastikas and shouting "Heil Hitler."

Several ultranationalist groups, including the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, organized that demonstration, called the Russian March. The movement has been granted permission to gather 7,000 people Sunday afternoon for a Russian March along Naberezhnaya Tarasa Shevchenko, in central Moscow.

Pro-Kremlin youth groups Nashi, Young Guard, Mestniye and Young Russia have also been granted permission to hold rallies with several thousand participants each. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party has the go-ahead for a rally of up to 2,000 people on Pushkin Square, while Yabloko has received permission for 3,000 demonstrators on Bolotnaya Ploshchad.

Sergei Baidakov, prefect of the Central Administrative District, said none of the demonstrations would require the closing of streets to traffic.

Some 6,500 police officers were dispatched to maintain order in Moscow for last year's Nov. 4 holiday. A police spokesman said Thursday, however, that he could not provide numbers for this Sunday.

According to a poll released Friday by the Levada Center, only 23 percent of Russians know the name of the Nov. 4 holiday, up from 8 percent in 2005. Twenty-two percent identified the holiday as the Day of Accord and Reconciliation, the name of the Nov. 7 holiday in the 1990s.

Only 4 percent of the 1,600 people polled nationwide knew that the holiday commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders, down from 5 percent in 2005, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.