Two men hold a Russian flag as pro-Russia supporters gather to take part in a motorcade in Hanover, Germany, April 10, 2022. — Reuters pic
HANOVER, April 10 — Around 600 pro-Russian protesters in a 350-car motorcade set off on a demonstration in Hanover in the north of Germany today, where there was also a counter-demonstration of around 700 people supporting Ukraine in the city centre, local police said.
The motorcade, flying Russian and also a few German flags, is protesting against discrimination in Germany towards Russians following the Ukraine invasion.
Police said fences had been put up to separate the pro-Russian protesters from the counter-demonstration and they added that the protests had been peaceful so far.
Around 235,000 Russian citizens live in Germany, according to government statistics from late 2020. About 135,000 Ukrainians lived in Germany before Russia’s invasion, based on the statistics, but around an additional 300,000 have arrived since the invasion.
In Frankfurt, pro-Russian protesters gathered for a march through the city centre after local authorities refused to allow a motorcade, local media reports said.
Counter-demonstrators assembled in two other locations in Frankfurt, with “Stop War” banners and Ukrainian flags painted on their faces.
Police in Frankfurt said it was too soon to provide estimates of numbers at either protest. Local authorities expected around 2,000 people at the pro-Russian march.
Local authorities had warned ahead of the protests that while protesters had a right to assemble, Russian war propaganda or endorsements of Russian aggression would not be tolerated, local media reported.
“We will not allow our fundamental right to gather and protest to be exploited for Russian war propaganda on German streets,” Lower-Saxony’s interior minister Boris Pistorius told local media on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression. — Reuters