Russian ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev (C) was doused with red paint on Victory Day by protesters against Russia's invasion of Ukraine during his attempt to lay flowers at the Cemetery-Mausoleum of Soviet Soldiers in Warsaw, Poland. Photo by Leszek Syzmanski/EPA-EFE
May 9 (UPI) -- Protesters doused Russia's ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, with red paint during a Victory Day event honoring soldiers who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.
Red liquid, resembling blood, dripped down Andreev's face after protesters against Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine doused him with red paint as he attempted to lay a wreath at the cemetery of Soviet soldiers in Warsaw, Poland, video footage from Onet.pl obtained by Newsweek and Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti showed.
The diplomat can be seen in the video attempting to wipe the liquid out of his eyes.
He was blocked from laying the wreath as a crowd shouted insults, and he was forced to leave the area accompanied by officers, Ria Novosti and Newsweek reported.
Several other bystanders were also doused with red paint, the video showed.
The incident occurred amid Russian President Vladimir Putin defending Russian forces invasion in his Victory of Ukraine as the "only right decision," in his Victory Day speech before a military parade in Moscow's Red Square by placing blame on NATO and Western nations.
Andreev said that he and other diplomats were not seriously injured in the incident, according to a post from Russian news agency TASS' Telegram channel.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a Telegram post those responsible for the attack were "admirers of neo-Nazism."
"The demolition of monuments to the heroes of World War II, the desecration of graves, and now the disruption of the flower-laying ceremony on a holy day for every decent person prove the already obvious -- the West has set a course for the reincarnation of fascism," Zakharova added in the post. "But, as I said, we cannot be intimidated."
Putin has used unfounded accusations of the proliferation of neo-Nazi sentiment in Ukraine as his reason for invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, even though Ukraine's President Vladimir Zelensky is Jewish.
Ukrainians resisting the invasion have dubbed Russian leaders and troops "rashists," accusing them of acting like Nazis, The Washington Post reported.
The Russian Embassy in Poland said it will file a formal protest over the attack, Russian News Agency TASS reported in a Telegram post.
The Embassy decided not to hold the ceremony in its traditional format with a march to mark Victory Day due to security issues related to allegations the event was related to the Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Pro-Ukrainian and pro-Putin supporters clashed before Andreev arrived with police intervening to separate them, the Polish daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported.
Last month, Russian Nobel Peace Prize-winning newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov, of the independent investigative paper Novaya Gazeta, was doused with red paint by an unknown person while traveling on a train from Moscow to Samara.
"My eyes are burning terribly," Muratov said regarding the incident on Novaya Gazeta's Telegram channel.
Since then, a spokesperson for Novaya Gazeta Europe, a new project started by newspaper staff of Novaya Gazeta who fled Russia after the government cracked down on independent journalism, told CNN Muratov's eyes "seem to be OK."
Gulnoza Said, a program coordinator in Europe and Central Asia for the Committee to Protect Journalists, has called on Russian authorities to investigate the attack on Muratov and bring charges against whoever is responsible.