Russian Ambassador to Poland covered in red paint in Victory Day anti-war protest
Russia's ambassador to Poland had red paint thrown over him by anti-war protesters in Warsaw as he arrived at the Soviet soldiers' cemetery to lay flowers on Victory Day, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies.
Ambassador Sergey Andreev was met by hundreds of people opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as he arrived at the cemetery in the capital to pay tribute to Red Army soldiers who died during the Second World War.
Video footage posted on Twitter showed protesters, some with Ukrainian flags, surrounding the Russian delegation and chanting "fascists" before Mr Andreev was doused in the red substance.
The protesters first snatched the wreath of flowers he was carrying to lay at the cemetery and trampled on it. Mr Andreev told reporters he and his team were not seriously hurt in the incident, TASS news agency reported, but said he would be making a "formal protest".
"We will make a formal protest," he said. "When they recommended that we not hold a larger event, we met them halfway, we didn't aggravate the situation."
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced the attack, saying on her messaging app channel that “we won’t be scared” while the “people of Europe should be scared to see their reflection in a mirror.”
One protester interviewed by TVN24 said it was good that the ambassador had been covered in red.
"With all our heart we are with Mariupol," she said, referring to the southeastern Ukrainian city that has been devastated by the war.
In Moscow, the major Russian patriotic holiday was celebrated with great military pomp in a parade at Red Square in Moscow watched by the president, Vladimir Putin who delivered a less incendiary speech than many feared during the ceremony.
Some Russian commentators suggested the attack on the ambassador could prompt Moscow to recall him and ask the Polish ambassador to leave.
Poland’s interior minister said Poland’s government had advised the Russian ambassador against laying flowers at the cemetery, and noted police allowed him to safely leave the scene.
“The gathering of opponents of Russian aggression against Ukraine, where the crime of genocide takes place every day, was legal,” Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski added. “The emotions of Ukrainian women taking part in the demonstration, whose husbands are fighting bravely in defence of their homeland, are understandable.”