WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Protesters in Ukraine have painted the Russian ambassador to Poland red.Warsaw cemetery on Monday prevents payments to Red Army soldiers who died during World War II.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the attack, saying on her news processor channel “We are not afraid,” while “Europeans should be afraid to see their reflection in the mirror.”
Ambassador Sergei Andreev visited the grave of Soviet soldiers to lay flowers on Victory Day, the day Nazi Germany was defeated by the Allies. The main Russian patriotic holiday was celebrated with pomp In a march on Red Square in Moscow.
On his arrival at the Soviet military cemetery in the Polish capital, Andreev was met by hundreds of Russian anti-war activists in Ukraine. Protesters first snatched the flower garland he was planning to put in the cemetery. The opponent who was standing next to him threw red paint from behind him before he threw a big bubble in his face.
Protesters carried Ukrainian flags and chanted “fascists” and “murderers” towards him, some wearing red and white sheets representing the Ukrainian people affected by Russia’s war. Other people in his entourage were also seen spraying things like red paint.
“Fans of the neo-Nazis have shown their face again,” Zakarova said. He said the Soviet army had removed monuments to World War II veterans and that the attack reflected “the tendency for the rebirth of fascism.”
Some Russian commentators have suggested that the attack on the ambassador could prompt Moscow to recall him and ask the Polish ambassador to leave.
The Polish government faced criticism for not providing much security to the ambassador, allowing an incident that could be used by Russia to portray Poland as hostile to Moscow.
One of the critics, Bartholomew Sienkievich, a former interior minister, said for weeks that he could not understand why the ambassador did not have much security if “you can feel how May 9 will end in Warsaw.”
However, the current Interior Minister of Poland noted that the Polish government had advised the Russian ambassador against placing flowers on the grave and that the police had allowed him to leave the area safely.
“The meeting of protesters against the Russian occupation of Ukraine, where genocide is committed every day, is legal,” said Interior Minister Mariusz Kominski. “The feelings of the Ukrainian women who took part in the demonstration are understandable. Their husbands are fighting bravely to defend their homeland.”
Protesters marched in Warsaw on Sunday evening to protest the war, bringing a tanker in a tractor and parked it in front of the Russian embassy. Since the start of the war on February 24, images of Ukrainian tractors hauling Russian tanks have been symbols of Ukrainian opposition.
The Soviet cemetery is set in the middle of a vast park on the road connecting Downtown to the International Airport. It was the final resting place of more than 20,000 Red Army soldiers who died fighting on Polish soil while helping to defeat Nazi Germany.
Although Poland has removed some monuments to the Red Army in the years since the overthrow of the pro-Moscow communist regime, it has allowed the tomb to remain intact. Although Soviet troops defeated the Nazis, earlier in the war Soviet forces invaded Poland following a secret agreement with the Nazi government, and carried out atrocities against the Poles, including mass executions and deportation to Siberia.
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