Protesters doused Russia’s ambassador to Poland with red paint today, in an expression of outrage over Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine.
Protesters splattered ambassador Sergey Andreev as he arrived at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Poland’s capital, Warsaw. He had come to lay flowers at soldiers’ graves, and pay tribute to Red Army soldiers who died in the Second World War. Russia celebrates its victory on May 9, unlike the U.S., which celebrates VE Day on May 8.
In a hyperbolic response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry claimed this was “fascism.” “The demolition of monuments to the heroes of World War II, the desecration of graves, and now the disruption of the flower-laying ceremony on a holy day for every decent person prove the already obvious — the West has set a course for the reincarnation of fascism,” said Maria Zakharova of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
As he arrived at the cemetery, the ambassador passed by hundreds of protesters outraged by Russian mass killings in Ukraine. Protesters grabbed a wreath of flowers he planned to lay near soldiers’s graves, and displayed Ukrainian flags. Some protesters called the ambassador’s entourage “murderers” and “fascists.”
Soon, Andreev and nearby Russian officials were covered with red paint.
Before the confrontation, the Russian Embassy had decided to scale down its Victory Day festivities, dropping prior plans for a Victory Day march. Even before Andreev arrived on the scene, pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian demonstrators clashed, Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported.
700 miles to the east, Russian leader Vladimir Putin marked Victory Day with a military parade and a caustic speech blaming America and its allies for the strife in Ukraine.
“Today, you are defending what your grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for. … Our duty is to do everything so that the horror of a global war does not happen again,” he declared. “NATO countries did not want to hear us. They had very different plans, and we could see that. Russia gave a preemptive rebuff to aggression — it was a forced and sovereign decision.”