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Russia: Communists Mark Bolshevik Revolution's Anniversary

Moscow, 7 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin condemned the bloodshed caused by the 1917 October Revolution as thousands of Communists marched through central Moscow today to mark the 80th anniversary of the Bolshevik seizure of power. In his speech today, Yeltsin said the revolution sacrificed ordinary human values in the name of political fanaticism. In Ukraine and Belarus, thousands joined in rallies in Kyiv and Minsk to commemorate the anniversary.

Despite snow and sleet, some 10,000 hardline Communists joined today's protest in Moscow commemorating the revolution.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, speaking to protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of the old KGB, Lubyanka prison, said there can be no accord between reds and whites. He called for the rebirth of Socialist Russia and of the ideals of the revolution.

Duma Defense Committee chairman Lev Rokhlin urged protesters "to overthrow the hateful regime."

Some of today's marchers waved flags modeled after the Nazi German flag but with a Communist hammer-and-sickle symbol in black instead of a swastika. But traditional Soviet red flags predominated.

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev told Interfax the present Communist Party "is blocking the formation of a true left wing opposition." He blamed Zyuganov and his supporters for having paved the way to the disintegration of the country.

In Kyiv, rival groups of Ukrainian Communists and nationalists marked the 80th anniversary of the October revolution with rallies and demonstrations kept under close watch by police.

Some 3,500 left-wing demonstrators, mostly elderly, shouted anti-government slogans and demanded the resignation of President Leonid Kuchma. The rally was jointly organized by Ukraine's Communist, Socialist and Agrarian parties.

Simultaneously, some 600 supporters of the Rukh party commemorated victims of the Communist era in front of the St. Sophia cathedral.

To avoid clashes between the opposing groups, Kyiv's mayor refused requests by both rightists and leftists to hold their rallies on Khreshchatyk street, the site of holdiay celebrations in Soviet times. Authorities also enforced a ban on laying flowers at Kyiv's only remaining Lenin monument at the end of Khreshchatyk.

In the western city of Lviv, radical nationalists attacked some 300 mostly elderly hard-line marchers with clubs and brass knuckles. Interfax says about ten people, including a local Communist Party leader and several women, were injured. Several suffered head wounds.

Meanwhile in Minsk, some 4,000 Belarusians marched in the center of the city today. Some carried portraits of Lenin, Stalin and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, others waved red banners calling for the restoration of the Soviet Union and expressing support for Lukashenka, who favors such a move.