Recalling Borodin battle, Vladimir Putin urges unity

Recalling Borodin battle, Vladimir Putin urges unity

Recalling Borodin battle, Vladimir Putin urges unity

Historical club members dressed as soldiers take part in a reenactment marking the 200th anniversary of the bloody single-day Battle of Borodino at Borodino village. EPA photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rousing call for unity among Russia’s diverse ethnic and religious groups on Sept. 2 as he led commemorations of a battle 200 years ago that led to the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Standing by a monument at the scene of the 1812 Battle of Borodino, 120 kilometers west of Moscow, Putin delivered a speech extolling the virtues of patriotism that enabled Russia to repel the French army in 1812. “Only when Russia’s nations were united, were together, they achieved the best results in the development of their fatherland,” Putin told Russian and foreign dignitaries, including former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Reuters reported.

“By and large patriotism, which was the basis of all our major victories, comes down to the unity of the Russian nation.”

Putin faces more open opposition in big cities than at any time since he first rose to power in 2000, and a persistent Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus. For the second time in five days he called for unity, underlining his concern that the insurgency could spread and threaten the integrity of Russia, home to many nationalities and religions.

The Battle of Borodino on Sept. 7, 1812, remembered by Russians as an epic victory, is commemorated in Lev Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace.” Neither side won a decisive victory in the battle and tens of thousands of soldiers were killed on both sides before the Russians withdrew and abandoned Moscow to the French.

I have no regrets, says jailed Pussy Riot member

Meanwhile, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the three members of punk band Pussy Riot jailed last month for a protest in a Russian cathedral, launched a fierce new attack on Putin in a magazine interview. “I love Russia but I hate Putin,” Tolokonnikova told the German news weekly Der Spiegel, in a handwritten answer to questions the magazine submitted to her via her lawyer from her jail cell.
“The Putin system... does not belong in the 21st century. It is much more reminiscent of primitive societies or the dictatorial regimes of the past,” she wrote, according to Agence France-Presse. Tolokonnikova insisted she had no regrets.