25 Feb 2012

1812 victory evoked by Putin

12:28 pm on 25 February 2012

Vladimir Putin attended an rally on Thursday in Moscow, where he evoked Russia's victory over Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812 in a patriotic speech on Thursday.

With the presidential election to be held on 4 March, Mr Putin, 59, called on people "not to betray the motherland" and repeated his pledge to protect Russia from foreign interference.

Police said 130,000 people marched along the banks of the Moscow River or attended the rally at a stadium, a much larger crowd than at any point in his campaign so far. The event was held on a national holiday.

The BBC reports it was a stark contrast to anti-Putin demonstrations in Russia in recent months, over vote-rigging during a parliamentary election last December.

"I can't hug you all and shake everyone's hand but I thank you for your moral support," Mr Putin said.

Mr Putin was previously president from 2000-2008.