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    MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS IN RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, May 1 (RIA Novosti) - May Day celebrations are in full swing in Russia. Trade unions have staged rallies all across the country to demand higher wages.

    Trade union rallies in Moscow protest the Cabinet's pension reform plans. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has expressed his solidarity with the protesters. The march organized by the Communist Party has brought together five to ten thousand people, Moscow police report. Three thousand have gathered outside the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (successor to the KGB) on Lubyanka Square for a mass meeting staged by liberal forces.

    A Communist Party rally is underway in Kazan, the capital of the Tatarstan autonomy. Its unusual itinerary and the great number of cameras around have made many of the onlookers think that this was not a real demonstration, but a crowd scene on a historical film's set.

    In Smolensk, near the border with Belarus, today's May Day rally is being held at a traditional venue-by the monument to Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Taking part in the rally alongside Communists are members of the centrist United Russia party, the liberal bloc Yabloko, and the Independent Trade Union Federation.

    Snow fall and heavy winds did not stop Communist and trade union activists in the Siberian city of Irkutsk from taking to the streets this morning. This time around, the local Communists and trade unionists held their demonstrations separately, thus breaking with the tradition of joint May Day rallying.

    In Buryatia, an autonomy in eastern Siberia, an association of indigenous peoples used the occasion to press for the preservation of the autonomy's special status after its planned takeover by the Irkutsk Region.

    About four thousand people, including City Hall officials, members of political parties and public movements, have taken part in May Day rallies in the northern Russian city of Murmansk, this despite today's heavy rain and strong winds. Youth trade unionists from the neighboring Norway are among the participants.

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