Germany fears an importation of the Ukrainian conflict on its territory

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To oppose it, demonstrations in the form of a motorcade “against Russophobia” displaying Russian flags are organized in the country, which is home to the largest diaspora in the European Union, creating controversy for their lack of distancing. in the face of Russian military aggression.

New parades of this type are planned for Sunday, notably in Frankfurt and Hanover.

Organizer of a convoy to Berlin last Sunday which brought together 400 vehicles, Christian Freier, 40, has since received hundreds of death threats daily and hard-to-sustain images of bodies being shredded or burned.

The website of his car garage was hacked and his online ratings plummeted: “my life is hell”, complains this Russian-German.

Few political messages were brandished in the motorcade that shocked the German political class on the very day that the atrocities of Boutcha were brought to light.

A woman, however, was arrested for displaying the letter “Z”, a symbol of support for the Russian army and now banned in Berlin.

“My goal was only to protest against the daily attacks on Russians in Germany”assures Mr. Freier, claiming that his demonstration had no connection with the conflict which he certainly does not want to talk about.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, 383 anti-Russian crimes and 181 anti-Ukrainian crimes have been officially reported to the German police.

Germany is home to 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.

“Cortege of Shame”

“Every war is condemnable and none is justifiable”, advances the co-organizer of the Berlin procession, the German René Hermann, 50 years old. He alleges “not to position oneself in this conflict”.

But far from journalists, the man turns out to be an influential blogger with thousands of subscribers on the social network Tiktok. Until the recent suspension of his account, he posted many messages typical of pro-Kremlin propaganda.

One of them claimed that “Prisoners Say kyiv Ordered Staged Massacre to Manipulate Western Thought”.

“The reasons for participating in these demonstrations are very heterogeneous”analyzes Jochen Töpfer, sociologist at the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg and specialist in Russian society.

“The organizer spoke of a demonstration against discrimination in Germany. Besides that, Putin fans are certainly taking part, or people who don’t like Putin but don’t want to see their country discredited, despite the war”he told AFP.

The Berlin parade aroused a wave of national indignation: the daily Bild spoke of “processions of shame”.

“For heaven’s sake, how could you allow this motorcade of shame right through Berlin?”took offense when addressing the mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk.

She answered him “to understand” her anger but indicated that she could not ban a demonstration in which were brandished “Russian flags”.

“Westernized” Russians

security authorities “closely monitor the extent to which Russian, but also Ukrainian citizens are at risk in Germany”said German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Adding: “we must be very careful that this war is not imported into our society”.

A hypothesis doubted by researcher Tobias Rupprecht of the Free University of Berlin: “most Russians here have a much more critical image of the conflict, they tend to be much more western than Russians in Russia”.

Nevertheless, “the longer the war lasts, the greater the risk of seeing a higher number of crimes committed in this context in Germany”dreads Mr. Töpfer.

Russian organizations have also condemned the parades.

“We will not tolerate the few instances of discrimination being used as cover for pro-Putin propaganda events”warned the community of interests of the Germans of Russia in Hesse (IDRH).

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