Applies only to memorial sites: Berlin Senate defends flag ban

Applies only to memorial sites
Berlin Senate defends flag ban

After it became known that Russian and Ukrainian flags were to be banned at designated memorial sites in Berlin on May 8 and 9, massive criticism erupted. The Senate sees the conditions as misrepresented and defends them against the attacks by the Ukrainian ambassador and the Berlin CDU leader.

After criticizing conditions for various Berlin memorial sites on Sunday and Monday, the Berlin Senate defended the measures. The two days commemorate the end of the Second World War in Europe 77 years ago. “The central idea is that the commemoration of May 8th and 9th, 1945 and thus the liberation of Germany from National Socialism must be clearly separated from the situation in May 2022,” said the Senate Department for the Interior. It is important to “prevent any confrontation” at the memorial sites that commemorate both Russian and Ukrainian soldiers who died in action.

The police ordered on Friday that wearing Ukrainian or Russian flags, for example, is prohibited at 15 memorial sites in Berlin on Sunday and Monday. Military symbols are also not allowed there. Accordingly, these prohibitions do not apply to diplomats or veterans of the World War. Numerous demonstrations and commemorative events are planned in Berlin on May 8th and 9th.

In all other public places, the wearing of Ukrainian flags is still “generally allowed” on these two days, the police emphasized. The authority had already ordered it on Friday. However, some representations could give the impression that wearing Ukrainian flags, for example, is generally prohibited in Berlin. That is not the case, it said. The police conditions for the memorial sites also include that uniforms or parts of uniforms – even in modified forms – as well as marching or military songs are prohibited. The Z symbol is also prohibited. The letter is used by pro-war advocates and stands for “za pobedu” (“For Victory”).

Melnyk attacks Giffey

The Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk, among others, had previously asked the Berlin police to lift the conditions for demonstrations and commemorative events on these two days. Melnyk tweeted on Friday evening: “Dear Governing Mayor @FranziskaGiffey, this scandalous decision by the @polizeiberlin must be REVOKE”. This is a slap in the face for Ukraine and a slap in the face for the Ukrainian people. Giffey emphasized on Saturday on RBB that there was no general ban on flags in Berlin. “I informed Mr. Melnyk again this morning.”

The opposition in the Berlin House of Representatives had also criticized the guidelines. “The Ukrainian flag stands for the fight for #freedom – how can you be so instinctive in Berlin of all places to ban it?” Said CDU country chief Kai Wegner on Twitter. He did not mention that, according to the police, the flag was not strictly forbidden, but only at the specified memorial sites.

The Berlin police want to accompany the planned demonstrations and memorial events with a large contingent. According to a spokesman, around 3,400 police officers should be on the road in the city area this Sunday and Monday.

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