Russia staged a huge May Day parade on Moscow's Red Square for the first time since the Soviet era with workers holding banners proclaiming support for President Vladimir Putin after the seizure of territory from neighboring Ukraine.
Thousands of trade unionists marched with Russian flags and those of Putin's ruling United Russia party onto the giant square beneath the Kremlin walls, past the red granite mausoleum of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin.
Many banners displayed traditional slogans for the annual workers' holiday, such as Peace, Labor, May. But others were more directly political, alluding to the crisis in Ukraine where Russia's annexation of Crimea in March precipitated the biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War.
I am proud of my country, read one banner. Putin is right, said another.
In eastern Ukraine, where a number of government buildings have been seized by armed groups seeking union with Russia, the security situation deteriorated further with dozens of killings following clashes.
In Moscow, Putin, unlike Soviet-era leaders, did not personally preside at the parade from atop Lenin's mausoleum. But he carried out another tradition from those days by awarding Hero of Labor medals to five workers at a ceremony in the Kremlin. He revived the Stalin-era award a year ago.
Putin has described the break-up of the Soviet Union as a tragedy and overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy in March by declaring Moscow's right to intervene in former Soviet republics to protect Russian speakers.
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin told Rossiya 24 TV that more than 100,000 people had marched through Red Square. This is not by chance, because there is a patriotic uplift and a good mood in the country, he said from the square.
Russian television also showed footage of a May Day parade in Crimea's capital Simferopol, with Russian flags and banners reading Crimea is Russia. Welcome home.
We are sure that the current patriotic uplift in Crimea will spill over into the whole Russian Federation, Interfax news agency quoted Crimea's pro-Moscow leader Sergei Aksyonov as telling journalists.
The intervention in Ukraine has been enormously popular in Russia. One opinion poll on Wednesday showed 82% support for Putin, his highest rating since 2010.
Putin has also revived the Soviet-era practice of staging massive displays of military firepower on Red Square to mark May 9, the anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two and one of the most important days in the Soviet and Russian calendars.
Central Moscow streets have been partially closed in recent days as tanks and mobile rocket launchers rehearse for that parade next week.