Despite slowing economy, 100,000 rejoice in Moscow

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin of Russia celebrated May 1 by ‘‘restoring traditions,’’ as he said, from the Soviet era: a parade of trade unions and medals for ‘‘heroes of labor’’ awarded in the Kremlin.

In the first Labor Day march across Red Square since the Soviet Union collapsed, workers carried banners that read ‘‘I’m proud of my country,’’ ‘‘In Putin we trust,’’ and ‘‘We’re going to vacation in Crimea’’ under the Kremlin walls.

The celebration drew about 100,000 people to the center of Moscow, Mikhail Shmakov, head of the Independent Labor Unions Federation, told reporters.


Putin has sought to identify his 14-year rule with the resurgence of Russia as a world power. Even with sanctions from the United States and European Union over Russia’s actions in Ukraine threatening the economy, much of the population sees Putin’s defiance as a sign of strength.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

While Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine drove its relations with the United States and EU to a post-Cold War low, the move sent Putin’s popularity soaring to 82 percent in April, the highest since 2008, compared with 65 percent in January, according to a poll by the independent Levada-Center published on its website.

The boost comes as the economy slows and reliance increases on exports of oil and gas, the biggest contributors to budget revenue. Russia is ‘‘experiencing a recession,’’ the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday.