Protesters splattered Russia's ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, with red liquid on Monday as he was arriving at an event in Warsaw to honor Soviet soldiers who died during World War II.
Andreev was met by hundreds of activists, some with Ukrainian flags, who were angrily shouting "fascists" and "murderers" at him before he was doused in blood-red liquid.
The protesters prevented the ambassador and others from laying their flowers, and police escorted the diplomat and his delegation away from the Soviet military cemetery.
Moscow says 'admirers of neo-Nazism' behind the protest
The Russian Embassy was forced to curtail its plans for a march in the Polish capital to mark this year's Victory Day and instead organized a wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery.
The Polish government advised the Russian ambassador against laying flowers at the cemetery.
"We will make a formal protest," he said. "When they recommended that we not hold a larger event, we met them halfway, we didn't aggravate the situation," Andreev said afterward. He also told RIA Novosti that he was unhurt and that the liquid appeared to have been some kind of syrup.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the incident and said the Foreign Ministry had protested with Polish officials for "their indulgence of young neo-Nazis."
"Russia has demanded that Poland organize without delay the wreath-laying ceremony while providing complete security in the face of all sorts of provocations," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Poland's interior minister defended the crowd as legitimate protesters angered by the war.
"The gathering of opponents of Russian aggression against Ukraine, where the crime of genocide takes place every day, was legal," Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said. "The emotions of Ukrainian women taking part in the demonstration, whose husbands are fighting bravely in defense of their homeland, are understandable."
Some domestic commentators, including a former interior minister, Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz, asked why Poland's government hadn't provided the ambassador with better security when for weeks "you could feel how May 9 could end in Warsaw." Current Interior Minister Kaminski said "the police made it possible for the ambassador to drive away safely."
More than 3 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland since the war started on Feb 24.
lo/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)