As Russian officials attempted to memorialize triumph in WWII on Monday, protestors demanded self-awareness from their leaders in acts of defiance that included symbolically dousing an ambassador with red paint to cries of “fascist” and “murderer.”
On May 9, 1945 the then-Soviet Union marked the defeat of Nazi Germany after the German Instrument of Surrender was signed late on May 8. As such, Russia’s Ambassador to Poland, Sergei Andreev, was one of many officials taking part in ceremonies to commemorate the occasion.
The ambassador was visiting the Soviet Soldiers Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland when he found himself surrounded by hundreds of anti-war protestors. As they chanted “fascist” and “murderer” and prohibited his effort to lay a wreath at the cemetery, a few participants came forth and covered Andreev and his entourage with red paint from behind and beside them.
Russian Ambassador to Poland Sergey Andreev covered in red paint in Warsaw.
100s of protesters met him at the soviet soldiers cemetery where he went to mark Russian victory day over the Nazis.
The crowd chants “fascist” and “murderer” at him. pic.twitter.com/jAIHvLXEgv
— Jack Parrock (@jackeparrock) May 9, 2022
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attempted to downplay the event in a statement to Telegram that read, “In Warsaw, during the laying of a wreath at the cemetery of Soviet soldiers, an attack was carried out on the Russian ambassador to Poland, Sergei Andreev, and the Russian diplomats accompanying him. The admirers of neo-Nazism have again shown their faces. But as I have said before, we cannot be intimidated. It must be terrible for the inhabitants of Europe to see their own reflections in the mirror.”
However, the numerous other acts of defiance against the government-controlled Russian media could not go overlooked so easily. According to BBC monitoring reporter Francis Scarr, who tracks Russian state TV, “This morning the online Russian TV schedule page was hacked.”
This morning the online Russian TV schedule page was hacked
The name of every programme was changed to "On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war" pic.twitter.com/P2uCNz8cqa
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) May 9, 2022
“The name of every programme was changed to ‘On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war,'” he translated further.
Similarly, The New York Times reported that this was not the only incident as employees at the news website Lenta.ru altered existing articles Monday to smear Russian officials calling President Vladimir Putin a “pathetic dictator” and his allies “weak-willed Russian elite.”
New headlines for existing articles read, “Putin unleashed one of the bloody wars of the 21st century” and “Vladimir Putin has turned into a pitiful and paranoid dictator.”
“War makes it easier to cover up failures in the economy,” one article read. “Putin must go. He unleashed a senseless war and is leading Russia into the abyss.”
Lenta’s Yegor Polyakov said of the changes, “This was not a ‘hack by hackers’ at all, this is our conscious decision, which was made relatively long ago. The main reason is conscience. I believe that all opponents of the war now need to unite.”
Earlier this year Russian President Vladimir Putin signed new censorship laws that threaten up to 15 years in jail for the crime of spreading “fake news.” Kirill Martynov, deputy editor for the Novaya Gazeta had described the environment shortly thereafter by saying, “I feel like all the situation has put us on the edge of civil war basically because hate is rising in Russia. Propaganda feeds this hate, and we have more and more hate and distrust in Russia.”
The changes posted on Lenta have since been undone and a disclaimer now explains those alterations were not made in accordance with the website’s leadership. As for Andreev, the New York Post reported that police removed him from the scene and he claimed to be unharmed during the incident.
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