Several controversial pro-Russian rallies were held this weekend in Germany at the initiative of the country’s large Russian-speaking community, which considers itself to be the victim of discrimination since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
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On Sunday, around 600 people waving a wave of Russian tricolor flags gathered in central Frankfurt under the slogan “against hatred and harassment”, AFP noted.
As many people gathered at the same time in Hanover, in the north of the country, at the call of members of the Russian-speaking community, local police told AFP. The day before demonstrations of the same type were held in Lübeck, in the north, with 150 participants, according to the police, as well as in Stuttgart.
In Frankfurt, protesters first gathered near the city’s banking district, under heavy police surveillance.
“I came here because I am for peace, children are beaten at school because they speak Russian, it is not acceptable,” Ozan Yilmaz, 24, told AFP.
The pro-Russian demonstration set out to reach the city’s main cemetery and lay flowers there in front of the gates in memory of the Soviet soldiers who died during the Second World War. At the head of the procession one could read a banner: “Truth and Diversity of opinion rather than PROPAGANDA”.
“The war did not start this year, it has already been going on since 2014 and therefore I find that talking about an aggression” of Ukraine by Russia “is not really appropriate”, judge in the crowd Sebastian, 25 years old.
In Hannover, where the pro-ruse protesters organized a convoy of cars in single file under close police surveillance, a counter-demonstration gathered 3,500 people under the slogan “Support Ukraine!”, according to the police.
The day before in Lübeck, the police had ended up stopping a similar convoy of about sixty vehicles because of “breaches of the legislation”, in particular “the support shown for the war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine as well as the use of prohibited symbols,” local police said.
The German authorities fear that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict will be imported into German territory.
Germany has 1.2 million people originating, themselves or their families, from Russia and 325,000 from Ukraine, to which must be added the arrival over the past month of more than 316,000 Ukrainian refugees.
The proliferation of demonstrations denouncing the “Russophobia” that would have won Germany has provoked a lively debate in the country, because the authorities see in it a danger of instrumentalization and propaganda for the theses defended by Moscow in the war.
Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the police have recorded 383 anti-Russian crimes and 181 anti-Ukrainian crimes.