"We will die defending Moscow like our brothers died". Quoting Lermontov Putin told cheering supporters of " a new battle for Russia".

Just days before the forthcoming Presidential Election Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday addressed tens of thousands of supporters at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and promised to fight for Russia in the face of unspecified foreign enemies. "We are the defenders of the fatherland!" Putin told a crowd of an estimated 130,000 supporters at the Luzhniki rally. The pro-Putin gathering was the latest in a series of public demonstrations organised by both pro and anti Putin forces which for the first time since the collapse of the USSR has seen mass scale public political events in Russia.

In a further bid to attract the nationalist vote, which is considered to be a decisive factor in the elections on 4 March, Putin recalled the Battle of Borodino, which marked the beginning of the end of Napoleon's 1812 campaign in Russia. "We will die defending Moscow, like our brothers died," he said, reciting a poem by Mikhail Lermontov. He added, "The battle for Russia continues, and we will win!"

Commonspace political editor said in a comment "The use of nationalist rhetoric has been one of the main features of this election campaign in Russia and reflects the current mood of the country. All the candidates are making this the centrepiece of their campaign. Putin was initially well liked by nationalists but in the four years that he has been out of the presidency he lost some of the sparkle that was associated with him when he was President. Dimitri Medvedev never had the support of nationalists in the same way and this may be one of the main reasons that it is Putin and not Medvedev that is candidate in this election representing the interests of the Kremlin."

source: commonspace.eu with Moscow Times and RIA Novosti

picture: Vladimir Putin addressing the crowds at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 23 February 2012 (courtesy of RIA Novosti)

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