May 17, 2022

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Pro-Ukraine outnumbers pro-Russian in German protests

Pro-Ukraine outnumbers pro-Russian in German protests

HANNOVER/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Pro-Russians held rallies in the German cities of Frankfurt and Hanover on Sunday, local police said, as they outnumbered Ukraine.

Police said about 600 pro-Russian protesters in a convoy of 400 cars flying Russian flags passed the northern German city of Hanover, while about 3,500 Ukraine supporters gathered in the city centre.

They said a fence had been erected to separate the pro-Russia protesters from the rival demonstration, adding that the atmosphere was heated at times, but both protests were generally peaceful.

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About 235,000 Russian citizens live in Germany, according to government statistics in late 2020. About 135,000 Ukrainians lived in Germany before the Russian invasion, judging by the statistics, but about 300,000 more people have arrived since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

In Frankfurt, about 800 pro-Russian protesters gathered for a march through the city center after local authorities refused to allow the motorcade, with some chanting “Russia” and holding a banner reading: “Truth and diversity rather than propaganda.”

About 2,500 pro-Ukrainian protesters gathered at two other locations in Frankfurt carrying “Stop the War” banners and Ukrainian flags on their faces.

Ahead of Sunday’s rallies, authorities said protesters had the right to assemble, but that Russia’s war propaganda or endorsement of Russian aggression would not be tolerated, local media reported.

Police reprimanded some protesters in Frankfurt for chanting “Donbass belongs to Russia,” referring to the eastern part of Ukraine bordering Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his forces into Ukraine in what he called a “special military operation” to disarm and “disarm” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unjustified war of aggression.

Additional reporting by Fabian Beimer and Erol Dogrodogan in Hanover, Kai Pfaffenbach, Andreas Berger and Frank Simon in Frankfurt and Victoria Waldrusy in Berlin. Editing by Jane Merriman and Barbara Lewis

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