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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2007
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Russian nationalists stage anti-immigrant march in Moscow

MOSCOW (AP) — A white supremacist from Texas lifted his black cowboy hat into the air as he stepped forward to address thousands of Russian nationalists at a rally Sunday in Moscow.

“I’m taking my hat off as a sign of respect for your strong identity in ethnicity, nation and race,” said Preston Wiginton, 43, exposing his close-cropped head to a freezing drizzle.

“Glory to Russia,” he said in broken Russian, as the crowd of mostly young Russian men raised their right hands in a Nazi salute and chanted “white power!” in English.

About 5,000 nationalists turned out for the Russian March, held for the third year on National Unity Day, a holiday the Kremlin created in 2005 to replace the traditional Nov. 7 celebration of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power.

The Kremlin has tried to give the holiday historical significance by tying it to the 1612 expulsion of Polish and Cossack troops who briefly seized Moscow at a time of political disarray.

But extreme nationalists have seized on the holiday, reflecting a rise in xenophobia. More than 50 people have been killed and 400 injured in ethnically motivated attacks this year, according to the Sova rights center.

Rights activists say the extreme nationalist sentiments are a natural outgrowth of the Kremlin’s attempts to rebuild a strong Russian state.

President Vladimir Putin celebrated Sunday’s holiday by laying flowers at the monument to Moscow’s 17th century liberators.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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