Ukraine flags block Russian ambassador's path on Victory Day
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A large installation representing Russian atrocities in Ukraine blocked the path of Russia's ambassador to Poland as he sought Tuesday to place a wreath at a Warsaw memorial to Soviet soldiers on Russia's Victory Day holiday.
The installation included hundreds of fluttering blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and crosses serving as symbolic grave markers for Ukrainians killed by Russians during the full-scale war launched by Moscow last year.
A pool of fake blood below the crosses underlined the message of the protest, which was created by Euromaidan-Warszawa, a citizens' initiative that supports Ukraine.
Organizer Viktoria Pogrebniak said the installation was meant to fight back against Russian propaganda, and “show the real picture to the world.”
“We are bombed, we are killed, we are raped,” Pogrebniak said. “We are killed just because we are Ukrainians.”
The protesters, mostly Ukrainians but also Poles, blocked Ambassador Sergey Andreev's passage to the memorial, which is set amid graves of Red Army soldiers.
The soldiers died in the fight against Nazi Germany during World War II. But many Poles also remember how they carried out rapes and other crimes, and they resent the decades of Soviet rule that came next for their nation.
With his path blocked, Andreev instead left a wreath of red carnations in front of the hundreds of Ukrainian flags fluttering in the wind as loudspeakers blasted the sounds of bombs and air sirens.
The installation also included large mock-ups of bombed buildings and the names of Ukrainian cities where Russia has carried out atrocities against Ukrainians: Bucha, Irpin, Kherson, Bakhmut.
Andreev, who was doused with a red liquid at the same place on Victory Day last year, vowed to return later in the day.
After he left, some protesters remained in case he came back.
Some Poles also showed up through the morning to leave flowers to the Red Army soldiers, triggering the anger of the protesters who denounced them as “provocateurs” serving the Kremlin's interests.
Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press