In Berlin, a rally is expected to be held on 16 April at 12:00, ostensibly to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the offensive operation in 1945 of the Soviet Red Army during the “Great Patriotic War” (World War II) at the Eastern Front.
This anniversary will be manipulated by Russians actively operating in Germany to promote the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.
The Russian Ambassador to Germany, Sergei Nechai, will take part in the event, alongside a group of bikers from the notorious Night Wolves club, headed by Alexander “Khirurg” (Surgeon) Zaldastanov, who also serves as an FSB operative. The latter has frequently come under the international spotlight including his participation in the Russian occupation of Crimea and his frequent outspoken anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian speeches.
Since the onset of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February Russians, abusing democratic freedoms, speculating on freedom of speech, have organised in a number of German cities (Berlin, Hannover, and Frankfurt) several rallies under the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking diaspora from discrimination. At these rallies, calls of support have been voiced for Russian actions in Ukraine.
It is clear that the Kremlin is directly supervising these rallies. The Russian embassy in Germany has created an email hotline for prompt reporting any allegations of “discrimination.”
The German public was outraged after police received eyewitness reports of rally participants shouting insults at Ukrainian refugees, pumping up speakers playing Russian music and waving Russian flags, as well as those of the USSR and Kazakhstan. A number of campaign vehicles were also decorated with the letter Z, which is banned in Germany as a sign supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It is not only Ukrainians, but also a growing number of Russians living in Germany who do not support Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. “Public speeches under the flag of a state waging war and genocide in an independent nation are unacceptable,” Munich-based Ilya Timofeev, a member of the newly created New Opposition of Russia in Bavaria movement, said, commenting on motorized rallies in Germany. They represent a security risk.
Germany very well remembers the case of an alleged “crime” blown out of proportion by Russian propaganda, which had allegedly been committed by Arab emigrants against “Liza,” a resident of Berlin from a family of Russian emigrants. In this case, false and unverified information circulated across social media leading to a diplomatic scandal and a series of rallies involving Russian-speakers in Germany, which were in turn used by right-wing radicals in Germany to criticise Berlin’s migration policies.
Germany is particularly sensitive to right wing fanatical interventions, having only this week arrested four people accused of plotting to create “civil war conditions” so they could eventually overthrow democracy. The gang detained are part of a group called the Reichsbürger who reject the German State as a legal entity; they are a minority but highly dangerous. The group have been accused of planning to kidnap a German Minister of State and preparing a serious act of violence that endangers the state and of violating a weapons control act. It is not known where these dissidents obtain their funds from.