A pro-Russian motorcade was pelted with horse manure in Hanover, Germany, on April 10, after facing a backlash from thousands of counter-protesters.
Image from Twitter - Moritz Simon
The motorcade was held under the guise of standing against Russophobia with around 350 vehicles taking part, according to police reports. The route was allegedly kept secret from the public after a similar motorcade in Berlin the week before caused a massive backlash and condemnation from German politicians.
In response, around 3,500 protesters displaying Ukrainian flags held counter-demonstrations and sit-ins, blocking the route of the motorcade and forcing the police to redirect the cars.
At one point, a group of counter-protesters surrounded a car displaying a Russian flag and pelted it with horse manure, according to journalist Leon Enrique Montero.
The Russian demonstrators carried banners with signs that read “We are against discrimination” and “Russia and Germany mutual respect and support”, alongside the Russian flag and German flag. There was also a noticeable display of Kazakh flags as well.
Video from Twitter - Reinhard Bingener
Unlike the protest in Berlin on April 3, the Hanover motorcade was less overtly about support for the war. Russian military flags and the ‘Z’ symbol, associated with support for the invasion of Ukraine, were not visible.
"The 'Z' has become a symbol of an authoritarian regime, which is conducting a terrible war of aggression, breaking international law, gagging freedom of expression and making lies the norm,” tweeted SPD MP Michael Roth on March 28. It was announced last month that Germany will prosecute people displaying the ‘Z’.
Nevertheless, the demonstrations have been interpreted as an exhibition of support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Another pro-Russian demo was held in Frankfurt am Main with hundreds of attendees. A flag for the Border Force of Russia was spotted.
Reacting to the event, Anders Östlund, a fellow at the Centre for European Policy Analysis, tweeted: “It's not just Putin. Here are people living in a free society, with access to free media, who are supporting the atrocities Russia is committing in Ukraine.”
The demonstrations were the latest in a series of increasing tensions between the large Russian population in Germany and the new influx of Ukrainian refugees, as well as pro-Ukrainian supporters.
Last week, the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin was vandalised with messages that included “Putin = Stalin” and “Death to all Russians”.
Russians make up the third-largest ethnic group in Germany and there are concerns over the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in which thousands of Russians in Germany take part in public gatherings.
“This is a foretaste of what will await us on 9 May. We must not tolerate warmongering fascist propaganda here in Berlin – neither today nor at any other time,” tweeted Greens Party member Gollaleh Ahmadi in response to the pro-Russia motorcade on April 3.