WARSAW, Poland (AFP) – Red paint is smeared on Russia’s ambassador to Poland by anti-war protesters in Ukraine.which was banned on Monday at the Warsaw cemetery for Red Army soldiers who died during World War II.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the attack, saying, “We will not be afraid,” while “the people of Europe should be afraid to see their own reflection in the mirror.”
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau described the incident as “extremely unfortunate”.
“Diplomats enjoy special protection, no matter what policies the governments they represent,” he said.
Ambassador Sergei Andreev arrived at the cemetery of Soviet soldiers to lay flowers on D-Day, which marked the defeat of Nazi Germany at the hands of the Allies. The main Russian national holiday was celebrated pompously At a military parade on Red Square in Moscow.
Arriving at the Soviet military cemetery in the Polish capital, Andreev met hundreds of activists opposed to the Russian war in Ukraine. Red paint was thrown at him from behind before a protester standing next to him threw a large blob of it in his face.
The demonstrators carried Ukrainian flags and chanted “fascists” and “murderers”, while some wore white sheets stained red, symbolizing the Ukrainian victims of the Russian war. Other people in his entourage were also seen splashing with what appeared to be red paint.
“Neo-Nazi fans once again showed their faces,” Zakharova said. She said that besides removing monuments to the heroes of the Soviet Army in World War II, the attack “reversed the trajectory of the incarnation of fascism.”
Some Russian commentators suggested that the attack on the ambassador might prompt Moscow to summon him and ask the Polish ambassador to leave Russia.
The Polish government faced some criticism for not providing the ambassador with more security, allowing an incident that Russia could use to portray Poland as hostile to Moscow.
Among the critics was the former interior minister, Bartlomig Sinkiewicz, who said he did not understand why there was no more protection for the ambassador when he “felt for weeks how the 9th of May in Warsaw could end”.
But the current Polish interior minister said the Polish government opposes the ambassador against laying a wreath at the cemetery, and noted that police helped him leave the scene safely. The ambassador had originally hoped to organize a D-Day rally in Warsaw, but this was opposed by the national and city authorities – and some considered his appearance at the cemetery provocative.
Interior Minister Marius Kaminsky added that “the gathering of opponents of Russian aggression against Ukraine, where the crime of genocide occurs every day, was legal.” “The feelings of the Ukrainian women participating in the demonstration, whose husbands are valiantly fighting to defend their homeland, are understandable.”
Demonstrators also marched in Warsaw on Sunday evening to protest the war, bringing a tank on a tractor and parked it in front of the Russian embassy. Since the war began on February 24, images of Ukrainian tractors pulling Russian tanks have been a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.
The Soviet cemetery is located amidst a vast park on the road connecting the city center to the international airport. It is the final resting place for more than 20,000 Red Army soldiers who died on Polish soil fighting while helping to defeat Nazi Germany.
While Poland has removed some Red Army monuments in the decades since it toppled Moscow-backed communist rule, it has allowed the cemetery to remain undisturbed. Although Soviet soldiers defeated the Nazis, earlier in the war, Soviet forces invaded Poland after a secret agreement with the Nazi German government, and carried out atrocities against the Poles, including mass executions and deportations to Siberia.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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