Protests, power struggles, and huskies.
Good morning, this is The Smoke Eater: Photo Edition for Wednesday, May 18, 2022, and you had to be there.
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Protests in Germany aren't as simple as they are in the U.S.
Activists need to announce their protest in advance. This protest, once approved, is listed on a police website showing information about the action, including the time and date, rallying point, and the length of the action. From what I'm told, unannounced actions don't happen regularly.
"Germans love their bureaucracy," a friend recently joked.
There were about half a dozen women standing in front of the EU Equal Treatment Office. According to the police website, they were demanding more help in evacuating people from Mariupol.
They held signs like, "Protect Ukrainian sky" in English, and wore Ukrainian flags. They spoke in German, Ukrainian, and in English.
"We are demanding to get what we deserve," said Slavia Krawez. "We aren't just fighting out fight..."You say we are fighting alone? We need weapons. We need heavy weapons."
Members of German government have been slow to aid Ukraine. To call the situation "complicated" would be a gross oversimplification.
Some are concerned that upsetting Russian President Vladimir Putin will only lead to harsh economic outcomes. Some maintain that Germany shouldn't be arming Ukraine as it will only escalate fighting, and could easily lead to a nuclear confrontation. Then there's others who argue Germany can't defeat fascism with appeasement, and those advocating for strict pacifism have no connection to the Holocaust. There's also an group of politicos with Russian ties who are becoming increasingly isolated, such as former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Early on, Germany became the butt of many jokes when it sent helmets while the U.S. sent javelins. Germany has been sending other types of aid, like food and medical supplies, but Ukrainians argue more is needed. Germany has since said it will send heavy artillery to Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is now pushing back against stories that suggested Germany, Italy and France were hoping for an end to hostilities even if it meant redrawing Ukraine's borders, Finland and Sweden formally apply for membership in NATO, and — as of this morning — Mariupol falls into Russian control.
Scholz recently told RTL television
"There is only one way out of this for Russia and that is reaching an agreement with Ukraine. And that doesn't mean a diktat peace, taking a bit of territory and then saying 'sign here'. And it also won't work as in the case of Crimea, where the war is over in the sense that there is no more shooting, but a new border has been drawn, and then they wait until everything goes back to normal."
Still, aside from the stray graffiti that reads, "FCK PUTIN," one wouldn't know there is a war in the next time-zone over. Except, of course, for these women standing only a kilometer from the Bundestag as tourists and commuters whiz by on scooters and electric bicycles.
One of the tourists shout's "Sláva Ukrayíni," a national slogan that means, "Glory to Ukraine." He pumps his fist in the air and screams, triggering an echo of chants from the women and some children playing at their feet.
"I don't know how people can sleep comfortably knowing this is happening in the 21st century," says Krawez.
A psychologist born in Kyiv, she and her husband have lived in Berlin for some time, and are now helping to organize protests, and provide aid for refugees.
"There's no red in me anymore, just blue and yellow," Mariia Yenner, 25, from central Ukraine, says at the rally. "I know my life is not black and white anymore, it's blue and yellow."
Yenner came to Germany after her family decided that she and her mother should evacuate. She's grateful of the support from the Polish and German governments, that they're trying their best. Still, she says she wants to return home soon, but she's not sure if it's safe.
"It's the hardest question," she says after being asked when she thinks she'll go home. "Working under sirens is really hard."
OK, here's your cute critter video!
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