Man arrested after taunting Ukrainian refugees in Berlin with pro-Russia slogans

He was aggressive, hurled abuse at police and sought to provoke Ukrainians, officers said

People fleeing from Ukraine eat and get some rest at a welcome centre in Berlin's Hauptbahnhof station. Reuters

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A man of Russian origin has been arrested in Berlin after taunting Ukrainian refugees with pro-Russia slogans.

The 33-year-old was said to have been aggressive, hurled abuse at police and sought to provoke the Ukrainians in the Berlin train station where thousands of new refugees arrive every day.

The incident comes against a backdrop of rising attacks on both Ukrainian and Russian migrants in Germany.

Since the war broke out in late February, there have been 308 attacks on Russians and 109 on Ukrainians, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Tuesday.

"This conflict should not be allowed to creep into our society," Ms Faeser said. "We have to remind people that this is Putin's criminal war. It is not the war of people with Russian roots who live here in Germany."

About 250,000 Russia-born migrants and 150,000 people born in Ukraine lived in Germany before President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine on February 24, which has prompted more than 300,000 Ukrainians to flee to Germany.

Refugees in a former hotel that is now their temporary home in Berlin. Getty Images

In the train station incident on Saturday, one of the two wore a victory sign in the colours of the Russian flag on his jacket. The youngest, who was being held in preventive detention in Bavaria, has been arrested while the other man, 41, has been released.

Proceedings for insults and approval of criminal acts had been launched against the duo after their detentions on Monday.

A motorcade protest supporting Russia also provoked anger in Germany, which has tried to implement an open-door policy to the fleeing refugees.

About 900 people in 450 vehicles carrying Russian flags took part in a motorcade in Berlin on Sunday, beeping their horns “against propaganda at school, for the protection of Russian speakers and against discrimination,” according to Berlin police.

The driver of a vehicle bearing the letter “Z” in support of the Kremlin was detained, police said.

The demonstration, which was authorised, drew the ire of Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, who criticised the Berlin mayor and police for allowing the “shameful” procession on “the day when the massacres of civilians in Bucha were discovered”.

In a tweet, the diplomat referred to the discovery of bodies littering the streets of Bucha, a town near Kyiv, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces. The revelations sparked international outrage as the Ukrainian president accused Russian troops of the killings, which Moscow denied.

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey said she understood the “anger” but insisted on freedom of assembly.

“This war should not be imported into our society and should not be fought on the backs of Ukrainians or Russians, who are numerous in Germany,” an interior ministry spokesman said on Monday.

He also warned “Russian speakers in Germany” against misinformation, suggesting they “inform themselves exhaustively in the various national and international media".

Updated: April 05, 2022, 11:54 AM
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