An estimated 5,000 vehicles participated in a car rally in the German capital city of Berlin to demonstrate support for Russia during its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Videos shared on social media showed dozens of cars driving through the city’s streets on Sunday.
Many cars flew flags of both Russia and Germany as they drove through the city. Pedestrians were also seen marching and carrying flags during the rally.
A Ministry of Internal Affairs of Germany spokesperson said during a press briefing in Moscow on Monday, “It is important for us, and we have emphasized this since the war started, that the war should not be transferred to our society, by either Ukrainians, or Russians, or German Russians, many of whom are in Germany. This is Putin’s war, not the war of the Russians in Germany, and certainly not the war of the Ukrainians in Germany,” as Ukrainian state-run news agency Ukrinform reported.
German law recognizes the right to freely and peacefully assemble without specific limits against certain causes. Assemblies may be dispersed if they present a danger to public safety.
“Therefore, the security services remain very vigilant, and if there is a legal opportunity to intervene, they do so,” the German official said.
While German authorities did not specifically intervene against the rally in Berlin, the German official said authorities have asked Russian speakers in Germany to obtain their information from a variety of international sources and distrust Russian state media reporting about the ongoing war in Ukraine.
According to Ukrinform, the Ukrainian community is asking the German government to ban Russian flags from public rallies in Berlin, to ban the flags from being flown on the city streets until the war is over, and to prosecute the perpetrators.
So far, Germany has supported Ukraine through the ongoing Russian invasion and has provided military equipment to Ukrainian forces. There have also been anti-war rallies throughout German cities since the fighting began, Ukrinform reported.
Last month, the Moscow Stadium in Russia held a rally in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the same time, anti-war protesters in Russia have been arrested by authorities. As of early March, the Russian human rights organizations assessed that about 13,500 people had been arbitrarily arrested in Russia since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24. A Russian journalist was also reportedly arrested after waiving an anti-war poster during a live news broadcast.