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Russian Opposition Marks 20th Anniversary Of Flag's Reinstatement

Boris Nemtsov (right) speaks at a memorial to three men killed in the August 1991 coup in Moscow on August 22.
MOSCOW -- Leaders and activists of the unregistered opposition People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) gathered in Moscow today to mark the 20th anniversary of the reinstatement of Russia's white-blue-red flag, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Dozens of party activists and veterans of the failed August 1991 putsch congregated at the intercession of Moscow's Sadovoye Koltso and Novy Arbat streets near the memorial to the putsch victims and commemorated them with a minute's silence.

The marchers included former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

The demonstrators carried a 25-meter Russian flag and a banner reading "August 19-22, 1991 -- We won't give up our victory."

The dates refer to the start and collapse of an attempt by Soviet hard-liners to overthrow Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms they feared were leading to the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

Although the coup failed amid wide public resistance, the events hastened the end of the Soviet Union, which was formally disbanded four months later.

One of the leaders of PARNAS, Vladimir Ryzhkov, said at the gathering: "People went out on to the streets [20 years ago] hoping to get a transparent and honest leadership after having a lying nomenclature leadership for 70 years. But they got a thieving, corrupted and bandit leadership instead."

Russia's historic three-color national flag was raised on the Russian Federation government building in Moscow on August 22, 1991, after the coup failed. In 1994, then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree designating August 22 the Day of the Russian Flag.

with agency reports. Read more in Russian here