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Thousands March Against Strikes

Protests: Traditional Easter Monday peace rallies in Germany are bolstered by Serbs.

April 06, 1999| From Reuters

BERLIN — Thousands of Germans marched through Berlin to demand an end to NATO's attacks on Yugoslavia as Serbian protesters swelled traditional Easter Monday peace marches across Germany.

Police said about 12,000 people took part in Berlin, while organizers claimed a turnout of 20,000 and put the attendance at peace marches nationwide at 150,000.

That was double last Easter's figure but well below the nearly half a million who marched against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Cold War military buildup in the early 1980s.

The numbers at the Berlin march were swelled by Serbs carrying Yugoslav flags and chanting "NATO out!" One group burned an American flag while others--emulating compatriots in Belgrade, Yugoslavia--wore paper targets pinned to their chests.

Germany's first combat since World War II has left the peace movement bewildered. The Yugoslav war is being prosecuted by some leaders who once were staunch pacifists, notably Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, a firebrand stalwart of anti-NATO street protests a decade ago.

The German public generally supports the participation of its forces in the assault on Yugoslavia, accepting the government's justification that it is a humanitarian operation to protect Kosovo Albanians from Serbian violence.

Fischer has successfully deployed that argument to rally his party, the ecologist Greens, behind the coalition government, which is dominated by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats.

In Moscow, a man on horseback dressed as an ancient Russian warrior fired a single arrow bearing a written warning against NATO's attacks on Yugoslavia at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, police said Monday.

The man, whom police identified as actor and director Andrei Andronnikov, escaped on his horse after the incident Friday, a police spokeswoman said.

"Those who act against Slavs by the sword will die by the sword," the message read. It also warned that the war would finish on the territory of the United States.

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