Claims by Russia that Germany tried to cover up the alleged rape of a 13-year old girl by asylum seekers in Berlin has sparked large anti-immigration protests in Germany’s Russian community. Lisa F., a girl from a Russian immigrant family, disappeared on January 11 and re-appeared the next day. While Russian television reported that the young girl had been abducted and gang-raped by “southern-looking” asylum seekers, based on an interview with a woman identified as the girl’s aunt, German police say it became clear the girl had not been abducted or raped. The officers said that while sexual contact was not forced on the girl, they were investigating two men for child abuse (as sex with an underage girl without use of violence is generally classified as child abuse in Germany).
Over the weekend thousands of Russian-speakers in Germany took to the streets to protest what they see as a cover-up by police. Their case is being enthusiastically taken up by German far-right activists as a way to fuel anti-immigrant sentiment. The incident has turned into a diplomatic row as well, with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov weighing in: “It’s clear that the girl did not disappear voluntarily for 30 hours,” he said at a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday. “I hope that these problems are not swept under the carpet and that there’ll be no repeat cases like that of our Lisa.” Berlin’s Interior Minister Frank Henkel responded to the accusations by expressing his amazement at Moscow’s involvement in an ongoing police investigation, and claiming that German police and prosecutors abide by the law. Other commentators in Germany, however, criticized the police department for not clearly communicating that it was following up on the child abuse angle, which fueled the anti-immigration rhetoric.
Read the full story at the BBC.