Ukrainians slam Germany’s flag restrictions

Kiev’s ambassador has called Berlin’s Victory Day ban “very short-sighted and unfounded”

Ukrainians slam Germany's flag restrictions

FILE PHOTO: A WWII commemoration ceremony is held at the Treptow Park memorial in Berlin, Germany, on May 9, 2022. ©  Global Look Press / Volker Hohlfeld

The decision of the Berlin police to ban Russian and Ukrainian flags at memorial sites in the city during Victory Day celebrations on May 8 and 9 sparked criticism from local Ukrainian associations, as well as the current and former Ukrainian ambassadors to Germany.

Apart from the flags of the two countries, the ribbon of St. George – a popular WWII victory symbol in Russia – as well as mock military uniforms, military and marching songs, and any “exclamations… that are likely to condone or glorify” the conflict in Ukraine are banned as well, according to the police statement.

“The dignified commemoration of the fallen soldiers of the… Soviet Army, who, along with other armed forces, contributed to liberating Germany and the world from the Nazi dictatorship, is the focus of these days,” the Berlin police said in a statement on Friday in which they announced the ban.

“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 added, adding that it should not be turned into “conflicts or arguments” over the conflict.

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 Germany explains Russian and Ukrainian flags ban

The Ukrainian ambassador to Berlin, Aleksey Makeev, blasted the ban on Ukrainian flags as “very short-sighted and unfounded,” urging the police to reverse the decision.

An alliance of Ukrainian organizations in Germany slammed the move as well, saying the Berlin police are “sending the wrong political signal” and accusing them of “legitimizing the Russian extermination war” by equating its symbols to the “national symbols of Ukraine.”

Kiev’s former ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik, also criticized the decision. “Have you gone insane?” the former diplomat said, calling the decision “a blow below the belt for all Ukrainians” on Twitter.

Later on Friday, Makeev said in a tweet that he had spoken with the police and that the issue is now resolved. He did not provide any details, but said he would address the Ukrainian community on Saturday.

Berlin has 15 memorial sites, including the iconic Soviet WWII memorial in Treptower Park. The sites have served as popular gathering places for Victory Day celebrations. Last year, the city authorities made a similar decision, banning Russian and Ukrainian flags. The move also drew criticism from Ukrainians and German media. Then-Ambassador Melnik called it “scandalous.”

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