Soviet hard-liners poured out the pent-up fury of almost six years of perestroika Saturday, blaming Lithuania, Zionism, pornography, rock music, businessmen and Boris Yeltsin for the nation's ills.
A few feet away from their rally in the chill, gray evening at Gorky Park, dozens of Arab students carried a large color portrait of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein holding a smiling little girl in his lap. They chanted Saddam's name.The two separate protests managed to find at least some common ground.
At the rally of hard-liners, Tatyana Khabarova, one speaker, told the several thousand participants that by attacking Iraq, the United States was imposing its will on the world, and a weakened Soviet Union could not stop it.
"They want to give us the second lesson," said Ms. Khabarova, a representative of Yedinstvo, a group that supports Russian speakers in the non-Russian republics.
"Russians and Arabs have never fought. We have a common enemy - Zionism," said one banner hoisted at the front of the crowd. The word "enemy" was superimposed on a Star of David.
The Soviet Union long has supported Arab causes, and it was once Iraq's main arms supplier. But President Mikhail S. Gorbachev has veered this country closer to the West and supported the international coalition against Iraq.
Soviet policy in the Persian Gulf war was just one of the problems on the minds of those at the rally.
"We want to return the country to the past, before perestroika," shouted Igor Molarov, a young man representing a group of conservative Communist youth.
Gorbachev, who initiated the reforms called perestroika, is widely perceived by reformers to be taking increasingly conservative stands. Many of his progressive aides, from Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze to economic adviser Nikolai Petrakov, are leaving their posts.
Reformers will parade through the capital Sunday in their own march to demand that Gorbachev resign because of the military attack on the broadcast center in the Baltic republic of Lithuania. The Jan. 13 seizure of the building, part of a wider crackdown in the independence-seeking republic, left 14 people dead.
Despite the fears of reformers, there appeared to be little feeling or enthusiasm among those who rallied Saturday that things were going their way.