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Russia revives May Day tradition to cheer Crimea

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia celebrated May Day with its first joyful parade across Red Square since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, as President Vladimir Putin basked in a surge of patriotism over the annexation of Crimea.

Elsewhere in the world, demonstrators turned out Thursday to press their demands for better treatment on the holiday also known as International Workers' Day. In Cambodia and Turkey, the rallies turned violent.

The Moscow parade of about 100,000 people was organized by trade unions and ostensibly dedicated to honoring the working class. The overarching theme, however, was Russian pride over last month's annexation of Crimea. Putin, who did not attend, was saluted as a national hero.

A long stream of marchers held up signs saying "I'm proud of my country," ''Let's go to Crimea for vacation" and "Putin is right." Russian flags fluttered through the crowd.

In Soviet times, members of the ruling Politburo used to review the parade from atop the mausoleum where the body of the first Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin, still lies.

Putin further tapped into nostalgia for the Soviet Union by handing out "Hero of Labor" awards during a Kremlin ceremony after the march. The awards, which were created under dictator Josef Stalin and disappeared along with the Soviet Union, were reinstated last year.

In past years, it has fallen to the Communist Party to keep up the May Day tradition. They held a separate rally Thursday in central Moscow that drew about 10,000 people.

May Day also is celebrated with huge organized marches in Cuba, where thousands filed through Havana's Revolution Plaza on Thursday to a soundtrack of congas, drums and cries of "Long live the revolution!"

Doctors in white smocks, uniformed government employees and construction workers waved Cuban flags and banners honoring Fidel and Raul Castro, guerrilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara and late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In Greece, more than 15,000 people attended peaceful rallies in central Athens to protest austerity measures in the crisis-hit country. Greece's largest trade union, GSEE, said the measures imposed in return for a bailout four years ago had "destroyed 100 years of effort" to establish labor rights. The union has organized 37 general strikes since the introduction of the austerity measures, which have severely cut incomes and benefits.

In Turkey, security forces in Istanbul's iconic Taksim Square pushed back demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas. Protesters retaliated by throwing objects at police.

In Cambodia, civilian auxiliary police armed with clubs turned on demonstrators after opposition leaders spoke to a crowd of nearly 1,000 in Phnom Penh. The assaults appeared to be random and limited, and were over in less than an hour. At least five people were hurt, said Om Sam Ath of the human rights group Licadho.

A ban on demonstrations in Cambodia has been in place since January, following numerous labor protests for a higher minimum wage and opposition rallies denouncing last July's election as rigged.

Thousands of workers in Bangladesh, including many from garment factories, took to the streets demanding the execution of the owner of a building that collapsed last year, killing more than 1,100 garment workers.

Sohel Rana, the owner of the illegally constructed Rana Plaza, is behind bars and an investigation against him is pending on charges of violating building codes.

The protesters, including several trade unions, carried red flags and banners reading "We want execution of Sohel Rana," and "No more deaths in factories."

Hundreds of workers in Hong Kong joined a Labor Day march, calling for improved working conditions and for the government to restrict the number of working hours.

In the Philippines, thousands of workers marched peacefully in Manila to protest low wages and the practice of replacing regular employees with temporary hires who get low pay and little or no benefits. They also decried what they said was President Benigno Aquino III's failure to deliver on corruption reforms.

The Philippine economy grew 7.2 percent last year despite a string of natural calamities. Still, nearly a third of Filipinos are considered poor

Thousands of Malaysians held a peaceful protest in downtown Kuala Lumpur against a looming goods and services tax they fear will increase the cost of living. The government has said a 6 percent tax will be implemented next April to boost revenue and curb rising debt.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told thousands of laborers gathered in the capital, Tehran, that he supports the establishment of unions "free of any interference by the state." His predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had dissolved many unions, leaving only a few perfunctory and powerless organizations.

Dozens of people, mostly members of the Iraqi Communist Party, held a rally in downtown Baghdad, raising Iraqi flags and those of the former Soviet Union.

Join the discussion

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MISS ELVIRA !!!! May 02 2014 at 4:36 AM

The people of Germany also cheered and fell in love with Hitler when he annexed Austria and the Sudetenland.

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mlaurel58 May 01 2014 at 2:30 PM

Just what the world needs, allright....a revival of International Commie Day.

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1 reply
vladswim mlaurel58 May 01 2014 at 2:40 PM

I can sense your level of hatred towards Russians all the way from Siberia

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crowland503 May 01 2014 at 2:36 PM

Aaw! The good old days of the cold war; pointing nukes at each super power not MAD but keeping the world safe. Regardless if you despise him, Putin restored nationalism to the Russians. While Obama made history by being the first black president, he has ultimately thrown American nationalism into the gutter! His weak, incompetent, and muslin sympathy helped create the current situations in Europe and Asian. Until a new president--not Hilary Clinton--elected to show the "manhood" needed to lead the world, then America nothing more than a laughing stock!!!

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1 reply
a3bplus crowland503 May 01 2014 at 3:12 PM

Typical Dumb idiot Racist. Yeah, the Black Guy is ruining the White Race. He is making them come out of the closet and show their true colors. Because, if they actually had a brain, unlike this crowland503 character. They would recognize that this president is doing a very good job, considering the obstructionism from the idiot White Racist Republicans.

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1 reply
crowland503 a3bplus May 01 2014 at 3:36 PM

Thank you for supporting my view points. You assume that I am white, I could be black, brown, red, yellow, or a combination of the colors. Not a question of race, since Obama's half white, but the leadership to be a President. If you believe that lying, deceit. cronyism. and all the other filth the best way to govern, then Barack's your man. Placing the United States in second. or third, as a world power fails those countries who look at the White House for leadership. Obama has ultimately failed.

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James M. Adams May 01 2014 at 2:39 PM

Did our president attend?

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Jim May 01 2014 at 2:58 PM

None manages expectations better than the Russian people! Expect nothing and when it is achieved you can have a May day parade! Hooray!

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martin3571 May 01 2014 at 2:48 PM

Exactly what Hitler did. Also moved into two nations to protect "German speaking people!" So much bigger then you all think! Hold on to your hats! Give it 5 years

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fernandezarthr May 01 2014 at 2:54 PM

........The Marxist/Leninist are again celebrating the Death and Oppression of Millions,....just Stalin got rid off about 40-50 million in Russia alone!!!!......sure celebrate you Blood bath!!!......

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1 reply
vladswim fernandezarthr May 01 2014 at 2:57 PM

You will never understand the greatness behind that ideology.

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2 replies
fernandezarthr vladswim May 01 2014 at 3:07 PM

....and what are you doing here living in America,..Living the American Dream????.....

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mlaurel58 vladswim May 01 2014 at 3:35 PM

The greatness behind that ideology? And you acknowledge the millions and millions murdered? You deserve to be treated the same.

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fernandezarthr May 01 2014 at 3:05 PM

....and this is proof for those who still had doubt about the revival of the Cold War!!!!......USA has to develop SDI and reposition limited Nukes within our NATO allied countries Now!!!!......

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gserlin May 01 2014 at 3:15 PM

Going back to communism. They are certainly making progress. If they are not now already, soon they will be wholly socialist again.

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rsbuttery May 01 2014 at 3:17 PM

Democrats everywhere are celebrating May Day. What was good for Stalin is good for them.

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