Kiev’s ambassador has named Berlin’s move “very short-sighted and unfounded”
The Berlin police’s decision to ban Russian and Ukrainian flags at the city’s memorial sites during the upcoming Victory Day celebrations on May 8 and 9 have drawn the ire of the local Ukrainian associations and sparked criticism from both the current and former Ukrainian ambassadors to Germany.
“The dignified commemoration of the fallen soldiers of the … Soviet Army, who, together with other armed forces, contributed to liberating Germany and the world from the Nazi dictatorship, is the focus of these days,” the German police said in a statement on Friday, in which it announced a ban on the flags and some other symbols during the Victory Day celebrations at the city’s memorial sites.
“The act of remembrance and respect for these memorials and monuments must also be preserved against the background of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war,” the police said, adding that it should not be turned into “conflicts or arguments” over the ongoing conflict.
Apart from the national flag of the two countries, St. George Ribbons – a WWII remembrance symbol popular in Russia – as well as mock military uniforms and their parts, military and marching songs and any “exclamations… that are likely to condone or glorify” the ongoing conflict in Ukraine are banned as well, according to the police statement.
Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin, Aleksey Makeev, blasted the banning specifically the Ukrainian flag as “very short-sighted and unfounded.” He called on the police to revise the decision. An Alliance of the Ukrainian organizations in Germany slammed the move as well by saying that the Berlin police was “sending the wrong political signal” and went on to accuse the law enforcement of “legitimizing the Russian extermination war” by equaling its symbols to the “national symbols of Ukraine.”
Kiev’s former ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik, has been even more blunt as he criticized the police decision. “Have you gone insane?” said the controversial diplomat who was known for his outspokenness and insults against the German politicians and officials during his tenure as an envoy. He also called the decision “a blow below the belt for all Ukrainians” on Twitter.
Later on Friday, Makeev, said in a short tweet that he had a “good conversation” with the Berlin police and the issue had been “resolved.” He did not provide any details but said he would address the Ukrainian community on Saturday.
Berlin has as many as 15 memorial sites, including the iconic Soviet WWII memorial in the Treptower Park. The sites have long served as the popular gathering places during the Victory Day celebrations. Last year, the city authorities took a similar decision banning Russian and Ukrainian flags. At that time, the move also drew criticism from Ukrainians and even some German media while the then ambassador Melnik called it “scandalous.”