Groups of demonstrators have gathered in Moscow on Saturday to protest the 2014 overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, on the first anniversary of the "Euromaidan" movement. The so-called “anti-Maidan,” march, which is a reference to Ukraine's pro-European Union protests that started on Kiev's central Independence Square, also known as the Maidan, is reportedly heavily backed by the Russian state.
Russian state media promoted the march under the slogan “We won’t forget! We won’t forgive!” BBC reported.
At least 10,000 people are expected to turn up at the march in central Moscow, NTV news channel reportedly said. Groups of demonstrators were seen flying banners which read “Maidan is an illness - we’re going to cure it!” and “Maidan benefits the enemies of Russia!” among them.
NTV is also expected to air an interview with Yanukovych later in the day.
“We will not allow the destruction of our state,” said Alexander Zaldostanov, local bike gang leader, at an anti-Maidan news conference in Moscow, Vocativ reported.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday accused Russia of being responsible for sniper fire that killed dozens of protesters in Kiev last February, citing information he received from Ukrainian security services. Russian security forces reportedly dismissed the charge as “nonsense.”
In March, a leaked phone call between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton, the U.S. policy head on the EU, was leaked, which seemed to imply that members of Euromaidan were responsible for the sniper fire, CNN reported.
Since the Euromaidan movement overthrew Yanukovych, Russian-backed troops have invaded eastern Ukraine, throwing the region into protracted conflict. A recent ceasefire between the two parties, brokered by Germany and France, seems to have fallen apart, as fighting resumed in Debaltseve, Agence France-Presse reported.