The federal government has warned German residents with roots in Russia not to fall for propaganda, as the Kremlin’s disinformation machine revs up amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Deputy spokesman Wolfgang Büchner said Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government “implores Russian-speakers in Germany to inform themselves thoroughly from the national and international media”, in order to avoid falling prey to false narratives about this happening in Ukraine.
On social media and in Russian national media, Kremlin claims, such as the staged killing of civilians in Mariupol and Bucha, have become widespread.
Stories of ethnic Russians abroad being targeted by xenophobic attacks could also be exaggerations pushed by the Kremlin, the government has warned.
“No one should give credence to the cynical and banal disinformation campaign waged by Russian state media,” Büchner said.
Büchner spoke a day after some 900 people took part in a car parade across Berlin, waving Russian flags and protesting what they called anti-Russian discrimination in the community.
“This is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war,” the government spokesman said. “Not a Russian or Ukrainian people’s war. The German intelligence services are very vigilant in this matter.”
Estimates vary widely, often depending on whether one tries to count people whose first language is Russian or people who speak Russian, but between 3 and 6 million Russian speakers are thought to live in Germany. As of 2019, around 3.5 million German residents had emigrated from former Soviet states, including Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
es/msh (AFP, dpa)