Ukraine supporters outnumber pro-Russians in German protests

HANOVER/FRANKFURT, April 10 (Reuters) - Pro-Russians on Sunday staged demonstrations in the German cities of of Frankfurt and Hanover, where they were far outnumbered by supporters of Ukraine, local police said.

Around 600 pro-Russian protesters in a motorcade of 400 cars flying Russian flags drove through Hanover in northern Germany, while around 3,500 Ukraine supporters gathered in the city centre, the police said.

Fences were put up to separate the pro-Russian protesters from the rival demonstration, they said, adding that the atmosphere was heated at times, but both protests were broadly peaceful.

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Around 235,000 Russian citizens live in Germany, according to government statistics from late 2020. About 135,000 Ukrainians lived in Germany before Russia's invasion, based on the statistics, but around an additional 300,000 have arrived since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

In Frankfurt, around 800 pro-Russian protesters gathered for a march through the city centre after local authorities refused to allow a motorcade, with some chanting "Russia" and holding a banner reading: "Truth and diversity instead of propaganda".

Around 2,500 pro-Ukrainian demonstrators assembled in two other locations in Frankfurt, holding "Stop War" banners and with Ukrainian flags painted on their faces.

Ahead of Sunday's rallies, authorities had said protesters had a right to assemble, but Russian war propaganda or endorsements of Russian aggression would not be tolerated, local media reported.

Police reprimanded some protesters in Frankfurt for chanting "Donbas belongs to Russia", referring to the eastern part of Ukraine that borders Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on what he calls a "special military operation" to demilitarise and "denazify" Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

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Reporting by Fabian Bimmer and Erol Dogrudogan in Hanover, Kai Pfaffenbach, Andreas Burger and Frank Simon in Frankfurt, Victoria Waldersee in Berlin. Editing by Jane Merriman and Barbara Lewis

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