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On Friday Russia for the first time will mark its new state holiday
On Friday Russia for the first time will mark its new state holiday - National Unity Day instituted in honour of Moscow's liberation from Polish invaders in 1612.

The initiators of the holiday were the Russian Orthodox Church and leaders of the country's main religious confessions. On December 29, 2004 President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law announcing the National Unity Day a day off.

November 4 is one of the most important dates in the Russian history. At the beginning of the 17th century a considerable part of the country was invaded by Polish-Lithuanian occupants. In 1611 territorial elder in Nizhny Novgorod Kuzma Minin called on the people to repel the aggressors and began to arm citizens. The people's forces were formed of small and medium noblemen. Small nationalities of Russia's Volga region and the North of Russia - Mari, Chuvashi, Komi and other peoples also took an active part in the resistance.

On November 4, 1612 people's troops under the command of Kuzma Minin and prince Dmitry Pozharsky stormed Kitai-Gorod thus liberating Moscow from Polish invaders. The Poles finally surrendered in several days and signed capitulation. This was the turning point in Russia’s history and the country’s total liberation followed the time of troubles. Since then this event became a symbol of unity of Russian peoples. In 1613 tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov instituted a holiday – Day of Moscow’s Liberation from Polish Invaders that was marked on November 4.

From 1649 the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God day was celebrated in Russia on the order of tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. The icon was sent from Kazan to prince Dmitry Pozharsky and became the guardian of citizens-in-arms – Russian people’s forces came out for action from the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin walls in January 1612, with the icon the troops came to the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Laura in the summer and liberated Moscow with the icon. To this day November 4 is marked in Russia as the Orthodox holiday of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.

The feat of the Russian people was perpetuated in 1818 by a decree of Emperor Alexander I. A monument to Minin and Pozharsky created by celebrated sculptor, Academician Ivan Martos was placed on Moscow’s Red Square. It was the first in Russia monument erected not to the tsar or military commander, but to national heroes.

Initially it was planned to place the monument in Nizhny Novgorod. Two hundred years after that the idea became a reality – a festive ceremony of unveiling the monument to Minin and Pozahrsky will be held in the city on Friday. It is a replica of the monument in Moscow.