Russian President Vladimir Putin called today for national unity and an evolutionary and gradual development of the State during the celebrations of Russia Day at the same time as an opposition demonstration was taking place.
Putin mentioned an evolutionary path as a necessity in the development of the Russian State, at an award ceremony for Russians with outstanding achievement in politics, economy, science, and culture, held at the Kremlin.
He also stated that a country with a multinational base and a federated model of administration must be developed gradually, since obstacles in this regard can cause unpredictable social and economic upheaval.
Everything that weakens the country also divides Russian society, said Putin to thousands of guests at a reception at the headquarters of the Russian presidency.
While more than 1,550 mass activities involving over 1.3 million people were taking place, the opposition organized a so called "Million Person March" in the capital, which had a turnout below expectations, even for those of its promoters, reported various sources.
The leader of the opposition Leftist Front, Sergei Udaltsov, was the only one to mention a figure of 100,000 in attendance, although the demonstration permit submitted to Moscow's city government was for 50,000.
Udaltsov changed the tone of the opposition's demands after police found a large quantity of anti-government material in his apartment, as part of their investigation into the disturbances of May 6.
The leader of the Leftist Front denied that the objective of the protests was the dismissal of Putin, calling in his speech for social justice and the employment of natural resources such as oil, gas and gold, to benefit the people.
Furthermore, the opposition leader spoke of decent salaries, although local press turned to economists who expressed that on the contrary, the increase in personal assets occasionally has a negative effect on productivity.
Leonid Poliukov, a member of the Presidential Council for the development of civil society and human rights, said that the opposition is becoming more fragmented, with declining support for their demonstrations, because they cannot consolidate around a single program.