Alena Dirksen, the Russian-born German owner of the Rodina restaurant in Mittweida, published a video on TikTok on Monday, Oct. 10, where she filmed Ukrainian protesters in Dresden on the same day that Russia launched a massive missile attack on several Ukrainian cities, including central Kyiv.
In it, she comments on the protest, saying “Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], they didn’t get enough [bombings in Ukraine today]. You can also bomb the f#ck out of them once here, in Dresden.”
The Tik Tok video is accompanied by many self-explanatory hashtags, such as “idiotism”, “vladimir vladimirovich”, and “fix the situation” (with a spelling mistake in Russian).
In another TikTok video, Dirksen proceeds to say that those people who are now leaving a one-star review about her restaurant and are writing some sort of “f#ckery” in her Instagram “are wrong” if they think they are doing her a disservice.
“Bad publicity is also publicity. Continue doing just the same,” she said in a complacent tone, sending air kisses to the public.
The hashtags accompanying the video are similar to those published in the first one: “Russia”, “work brothers”, and “I’m not ashamed” (a Russian slogan introduced at the beginning of the war in response to I’m ashamed [of being Russian]).
Both videos went viral on social media, with Belarusian media outlet NEXTA and Germany’s Bild publishing an article highlighting the story.
The German police also replied to a corresponding Twitter thread, saying “We have secured the video and are forwarding the matter to the responsible colleagues for verification.”
Alena Dirksen took down the posts and removed her social media handles.
Aggressor depicted as victim
Dirksen’s story is enhanced by the fact that she appeared in the German media several months earlier where she was portrayed as a “victim” of “hostility.”
German outlet Frei Presse published a short article on Aug. 9 about Dirksen and her family as well as their restaurant in Mittweida (Rodina means “motherland” in Russian), with the article’s opening line reading “Alena Dirksen has been living in Mittweida for 20 years and runs the Rodina restaurant. Borscht Ukrainskij, a Ukrainian dish, is also on the menu. The last few weeks have not been easy for her and her family. She also installed surveillance cameras at the bar”.
The story is focused on the restaurant’s interior, which uses classical Russian elements such as the matryoshka doll, her mother who cooks there, and the fact that Dirksen encounters hostility on grounds of origin alluding to the unfairness of this.
In response to this article, journalists from the Ukrainian organization StopFake.org reached out to the author’s article, Anna Schwesinger, and asked why she decided to omit vital information in this story such as Dirksen’s public support of Russian war narratives on Facebook. In particular, she had published poems about the world ignoring “the war in Donbas for eight years” and added the Russian flag to her profile picture in support of the Russian government.
Alexei Zamkovoi, a journalist with StopFake, showed a screenshot of the messages he sent to Schwesinger after the publication of the article in August, in which he asks her why she did not include vital information regarding the main “victim” of the article.
He confirmed that to date Schwesinger has not responded to his inquiry.
Kyiv Post has also filed a request for Schwesinger and Freie Presse to comment on the situation as well as whether they’re planning to issue an apology for having failed to include critical information and if they are planning to take down the article.
Frei Presse did not respond to an immediate request for information.
The article continues to be available on the Freie Presse site and social media where comments have been restricted.
Just one instance
Dirksen’s episode is just one of the many examples of overt Russian support for Putin’s regime and hate toward Ukrainians abroad, including in EU member states.
In France, two Ukrainians were beaten up by a Russian national for listening to Ukrainian music in public, with one of the Ukrainians ending up in a hospital.
In Sweden, in the spring, a Russian woman Eugenia Karlsson was filmed stomping on the Ukrainian flag next to the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, telling Olga Kaida, the Ukrainian girl filming it, that Ukrainians in Sweden are either “prostitutes” or “wash floors” and that the Ukrainian flag is “fascist.”
Multiple videos have emerged in Germany and Austria where Russians took joy in offending Ukrainians. One such participant is the German-based blogger Yulia Prokhorova, who filmed herself following two Ukrainians and singing “Russia will win la-la-la” and using the subsequent police summons as toilet paper and showing it on camera.
In some instances, perpetrators have, due to a big outcry, faced repercussions.
Prokhorova has now left Germany, according to her own video, the result of purported deportation.
Meanwhile, Karlsson was reportedly fired from her place of work. She, however, continues to live in Stockholm, as per publicly available information.
To date, Russian nationals abroad have not organized mass protests in support of Ukraine or mass-scale denouncement of Putin’s regime.
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