Germany and Russia have a complicated love-hate relationship, but after a deadly bombing in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Monday, Berlin is refusing to offer a tribute to the victims with the traditional lighting of the Brandenburg Gate with the country’s flag.
The lighting of the monument has become customary for nations and cities upended by terror attacks, a practice that unfortunately has become all too common. In the recent past, the city adorned the Brandenburg Gate with the flags of France, Israel, Turkey and just last week the UK flag after the attack in Westminster. Last year, Berlin even displayed the rainbow flag to honor the victims of the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida.
According to a report from the UK’s Daily Star, a spokesman for the Senate of Berlin said that the monument’s tribute lighting is only done in “exceptional cases” and that it would not be doing so for Russia seeing as St. Petersburg is not a sister city of Berlin. “The governing mayor has made the decision that the Brandenburg Gate will be lit only following a terrorist act in a partner town.”
While St. Petersburg may not be an official “partner” of Berlin, neither was Jerusalem or Orlando. In defense of these two cities, the spokesman added that the lighting was done due to them being “places to which Berlin has a special relationship”.
With the German elections just around the corner, this recent decision may have more to do with politics than sister cities or special relationships. Russian involvement in election results have plagued the news, moving from the US and now Germany, and it has created a distancing reaction towards the country. German politicians don’t want to display any involvement with Russia, in fear of being seen as a corrupt campaign.
Whether this anti-Russian involvement played a role in Berlin’s decision is unknown, but the connections can be easily made. Is it enough to refuse paying tribute to the 14 dead and more than 60 injured in Monday’s metro station bombing in St. Petersburg? Apparently so.