Aggressive peace protest: Russia criticism undesirable at Bremen demo on Ukraine conflict
Preaching peace, showing intolerance: At the demonstration of the Bremen Peace Forum on the deescalation in the “Ukraine conflict” on the market square directly in front of the doors of the citizenry on Wednesday evening, the voices of those affected had little chance.
Wrapped in yellow and blue with the Ukrainian national flag, Solomiya Przybyla stood on the stairs with some friends and showed self-designed posters. “RuSSians are not friends, but occupiers” was written on one; the “SS” based on the Schutzstaffel of Nazi-Germany. Additionally, bullet holes and traces of blood were drawn. On another poster, the group showed on a map the territories currently occupied by Russia – or militias supported by the Kremlin.
“Peace” flag against banner
That was obviously too much for some protesters. With “Peace” rainbow flags and umbrellas, several tried to cover up the messages and verbally attacked the group. “If we are not for peace”, she was asked again and again, Przybyla later said. The group was also accused of racism and nationalism. “We know what war is – and we also want peace,” she underlined. But the reality is that Ukraine has to defend itself: “In certain points you have no choice.” Neutrality towards NATO until 2014 had brought war to the country.
Przybyla was born in Lviv, she and her friends were the only visible group on the market square that has a personal connection to Ukraine. Przybyla is committed to the victims of the war through the association “Heart for Ukraine” (Herz für die Ukraine), among other things. Many of the supported children had now joined the army after their fathers had fallen. They now wanted to defend their homes, mothers and siblings. “This is the reality for us,” Przybyla said. She repeatedly compared Russia’s behavior to that of Germany in 1939: “Germany should know what happens when a madman suddenly comes to power and wants to conquer the world or rebuild the Soviet empire.”
Przybyla: “That was a farce”
But with what they heard from the stage, the group shouted boos against the loud applause. For example, when it was said that the Ukrainian government was the only party not fulfilling the conditions of the Minsk II agreement or that it should not move troops to the east to the front of the occupied territories. “That was a farce,” Przybyla summed up frustrated.
On the other hand, posters such as “no front against the Russians” (which itself set up one with more than 100,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine) remained unchallenged. Also the message that NATO was founded by the USA to oppress the peoples: “USA murderer” apparently found more appeal.
While Annalena Baerbock, Foreign Minister, with a protective vest at the front in Donbass instead of “sunflowers” in Kiev was criticized at the speaker’s desk or an exclusion of arms deliveries to Ukraine was demanded, russia’s support in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk as well as the annexation of Crimea in violation of international law remained remarkably quiet. Instead, it was said that a “viable security architecture for all parties involved” was needed or that Russia had to be involved instead of excluded. The threatening backdrop that the Kremlin has built up in recent months hardly played a role.