COLOGNE (Reuters) – Germans in Cologne swapped their traditional Carnival festivities for an anti-war rally on Monday that featured parade floats lampooning Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
The Cologne Carnival parade, at which clubs traditionally poke fun at Germany’s politicians with colourful floats, was cancelled last week in favour of a “peace demonstration” after Russia invaded Ukraine in the biggest assault on a European country since World War Two.
Carnival is hugely popular in parts of western Germany, especially in Rhineland cities such as Cologne and Duesseldorf, where festivities peak on Shrove Monday – or “Rose Monday” – with tens of thousands attending street parades featuring comical or satirical floats.
Thousands of people flocked to the parade route on Monday, many wearing costumes in blue and yellow, the colours of Ukraine’s national flag, and carrying signs reading “Peace” and “Stop Putin”.
One float in the parade depicted Putin as a puppet master pulling the strings of Lukashenko, and another featured a dove speared by a Russian flag.
The rally follows several days of protests against the invasion in cities around the world, including in Russia where almost 6,000 people have been detained at anti-war rallies since Thursday, the OVD-Info protest monitor said on Sunday.
(Reporting by Thilo Schmuelgen; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Miranda Murray and Mark Heinrich)