ATHENS – Hundreds of Greek pro-Russian demonstrators paraded through the capital in a motorcade to show solidarity with President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, just as reports emerged Russian soldiers were tying and shooting civilians in the streets.
The Russian lovers, many of them waving Greek and Russian flags, drove through the main Syntagma Square center in an attempt to disrupt a pro-Ukraine rally, some vehicles posting a Z emblem to show support for Russia.
Ironically, Z – which stands for “He Lives” in Greek – was the name of a famed film set in France, depicting the assassination of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963, a protest against the Greek junta from 1967-73.
Now Russia soldiers have put Z on their tanks and military vehicles entering Ukraine, bastardizing the symbolism and trying to turn it into support for the invasion, with the atrocities reported by Ukraine’s government sparking fury.
The protest took place as Ukraine accused Russian forces of carrying out a “massacre” in the town of Bucha, northwest of the capital Kyiv, while Western nations reacted to images of dead bodies with new sanctions calls.
Russia tried to turn that story on its head, including in Athens as its Chief Investigator Alexander Bastrykin ordering a probe of what he said were Russian national targeted during the pro-Russia event in the Greek capital.
Russia said that its supporters, including an underage child, were attacked by a group of people holding Ukrainian flags. The attackers also damaged some of the cars taking part in the motorcade, it was claimed.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, one of the first to denounce the Kremlin and back Ukraine, condemned the reported killings of unarmed civilians.
“Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Greek. “We call for the immediate investigation of the crimes and the punishment of those responsible,” it said, although that would ultimately be Putin who’s untouchable.
Russia denied the allegation, describing photos and videos from the town as a “staged performance,” at the same time Putin’s administration imposed a so-called “Fake News” law to prevent reporting the truth of the invasion, critics said.
Despite denunciations of Russia’s invasion and the reports of civilian executions, Greece hasn’t stopped doing business with Russia, including buying Russian oil and gas, allowing Greek ships to go to Russia and Russian ships to Greece.