Hundreds of vehicles in the city centre Pro-Russian motorcade drove to memorial in Bonn

Bonn · A motorcade with several hundred vehicles drove from Cologne to Bonn at noon on Sunday. Their destination was a Soviet memorial at the new cemetery in Duisdorf. There was considerable congestion in the city.

 The vehicles drive from Beuel across Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz.

The vehicles drive from Beuel across Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz.

Foto: Matthias Kehrein

With Russian flags, music and chants, a motorcade set off from Cologne to Bonn at noon on Sunday, converging at the Soviet memorial at the new cemetery in Duisdorf. According to the police, around 400 vehicles took part in the registered demonstration, which was related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite the large number of vehicles, the demonstration remained peaceful and there were no major incidents. There were occasional exchanges of words with passers-by who confronted the participants with what was happening in the war. 

The police only found out about the motorcade in the morning, and it was originally estimated that 100 vehicles would take part. Participants from all over North Rhine-Westphalia and other parts of Germany gathered in Cologne before travelling along country roads and the B56 through Bonn city centre to Duisdorf.  This sometimes led to bad traffic jams. The police directed the procession to a DIY store car park near the new cemetery in Duisdorf, from where the 500 or so people continued on foot. At the same time, about 60 people carrying Russian flags met at the Russian Consulate General in Bad Godesberg, but most of them left after a short time. The police accompanied both gatherings with hundreds of police officers and they also used a police helicopter for observation.

At the cemetery, the participants laid flowers at the memorial. Two women gave speeches in Russian. It had been very noisy, but at that moment everyone present fell silent. While many were behind the Russian army's invasion of Ukraine, there were definitely some critical voices as well. A Russian-born couple who have lived in Bonn for more than 20 years said they were there to remember all the people who died in the war. They were not in favour of a war in Ukraine. "But there was probably no other solution for Putin," they said, referring to the “multi-layered situation" that had already started with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. They expressed concern about the fact that children with Russian roots in Germany were being targeted, even though they could not yet grasp what was happening. "We want to speak out against Russians being discriminated against."

From the cemetery, the participants returned to their parked vehicles at around 4 pm. This led to individual discussions with passers-by who opposed the Ukraine war and pointed out the suffering of the people fleeing the region - apparently unsuccessfully. For the demonstrators repeatedly chanted "Rossia, Rossia" before leaving Bonn in what the police described as an orderly fashion. (Original article: Nicolas Ottersbach, Matthias Kehrein and Maximilian Mühlens / Translation: Jean Lennox)

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