DISINFO: In Germany people cannot demonstrate like they do freely in Russia
Totalitarianism Repression Police Alexei Navalny Vladimir Putin

DISINFO: In Germany people cannot demonstrate like they do freely in Russia


German citizens do not believe Western media accounts of Russian police brutality. They are convinced that the demonstrators are treated peacefully.

On social media, many compare the law enforcement agencies of the two countries, pointing to the crudeness of the German law enforcement agencies.

  • “They should take an example from Germany, in Berlin at the Reichstag they also used water cannons.”

  • “It reminds us a lot of the events of November in Berlin. Where are the water cannons?”

  • “If an unauthorised protest takes place in Berlin and the government is not happy with its goal, everyone is arrested. Everything is not the same in Germany as in Putin’s country.“

  • “If anyone started such a protest against the German government, it would be immediately banned because of COVID. They hear the people there. What’s wrong?”


Recurrent disinformation message using relativism to undermine the West and at the same time legitimatise low standards of democracy, in this case in Russia.

Regarding the latest protests in Russia, following the arrest of opposition leader Navalny upon his return to Russia last week, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Josep Borrell Fontelles stated on 23 January 2021 :

Following unfolding events in Russia with concern. I deplore widespread detentions, disproportionate use of force, cutting down internet and phone connections.

French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian declared on 24 January 2021 :

I find this authoritarian drift very worrying. I find that the questioning of the rule of law by these collective and preventive arrests is unbearable ... And I also find that the success of the demonstrations on Russian territory is impressive.

German Minister of foreign affairs, Heiko Maas, declared on 25 January 2021 :

Today we in the EU very quickly agreed that Navalny and the peaceful demonstrators must be released immediately. The EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell will travel to Moscow and discuss this clearly with his interlocutors.

The FIDH stated that :

Between 250,000 and 300,000 individuals participated in the 23 January protests. Despite preemptive arrests of organisers of the marches, intimidation of and threats to likely protest participants, including students, individuals from 125 cities all across the country joined the protests. These peaceful demonstrations were violently repressed by law enforcement, including riot police. Video footage from the protests shows that the police used disproportionate force against the protesters: at least 28 people suffered injuries as a result of strikes with rubber batons, or during harsh detentions. The case of a woman who was kicked in the stomach by a policeman for blocking his way when he and a colleague dragged a detainee to a police van sparked a public outcry. Lawyers from Memorial Human Rights Center, FIDH’s member organisation in Russia, documented a significant number of violations against detainees in 39 Russian cities. Detainees were ill-treated in at least 25 police stations. In many cases, detainees were threatened, denied access to lawyers, had their passports confiscated, were forced to sign reports or, conversely, were not allowed to write complaints. Nearly 3,700 people were detained and 15 criminal cases initiated against peaceful protesters for simply participating in the marches.

The Russian NGO OVD-Info stated that at least 3695 people had been arrested in 125 cities, among which 1454 and 557 in respectively Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

As a comparison, such massive non-violent demonstrations did not happen throughout Germany. Last summer, on 29 August 2020, in Berlin a 38,000 people demonstration took place in Berlin against the restrictions linked to the Covid-19 sanitary crisis. This size is comparable to the demonstration that happened on Saturday 23 January in Moscow. Not only Nazi symbols, Reichsbürger and Imperial German flags were displayed by some protestors but also hundreds of protesters, tried to storm the Reichstag, the home of Germany's federal parliament. About 200 people were arrested after stones and bottles were thrown, which is far from the nearly 3700 arrests in Moscow.

Furthermore, In Berlin the same day nearby, a separate protest with around 30,000 was expected to carry on until 9 p.m. because demonstrators were respecting the social distancing rules, Berlin’s interior minister Andreas Geisel said.

On 18 November 2020 Police, who had earlier warned the several thousand demonstrators, many of whom were not wearing masks or distancing, to adhere to restrictions, said they made 367 arrests. “Two of those arrested will be brought before a judge. Nine police officers were injured in action”. The order of magnitude of arrests in Moscow and Berlin are not the same, as well the prosecution against demonstrators.

The Russian police did not use water cannons in January protests not only because of the freezing weather making the use of this instrument very dangerous but also because the doctrine of public order was different, the police presence was massive and agents were in physical contact with the demonstrators making batons more useful.

Read also similar cases: Repressions in Belarus are extremely small compared to Yellow Vests or BLM, Double standards around violent protests in France, Germany and Poland, The EU criticised the elections and repression in Minsk, but in fact, the EU and its members have the same lack of democracy and repression.


Related disinfo cases


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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