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Russians Protest Ban On Telegram App During Traditional May Day Parade

Activists and supporters of Russia's left-wing parties and movements march during a May Day rally in downtown Moscow on May 1.

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to protest against government attempts to curtail Internet freedom -- marching defiantly while more than 100,000 other Russians took part in the traditional May Day parade.

Moscow's Federation of Trade Unions said about 120,000 people marched from Red Square on the main streets of the Russian capital on May 1 to mark May Day.

The May Day parade has become a highly orchestrated show of power by Russian authorities and the ruling United Russia party in recent years, with demonstrators refraining from criticizing the government.

But demonstrators this year marched through the streets to protest the government's ban on the popular messaging app Telegram.

About 10,000 people rallied in Moscow on April 30 to protest the blocking of Telegram, chanting that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is a thief!"

The event was organized by the Libertarian Party of Russia, which has called the attempts to block Telegram "a national shame."

Opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who spoke at the April 30 Moscow rally, has scheduled another demonstration for May 5.

Based on reporting by AP and RFE/RL's Russian Service