German police are searching for a middle-aged Russian-speaking male accused of throwing a 10-year-old Ukrainian refugee off a bridge into a river after he heard the boy speaking his native language.
The incident occurred on Aug. 26 in the town of Einbeck, Lower Saxony.
According to German media, the suspect, who is presumed to be Russian, overheard a group of children speaking Ukrainian and confronted them, claiming that Ukraine had started the ongoing conflict with Russia, and demanded the group speak Russian.
Investigators said that in an unprovoked attack, the man pulled the hair of a girl in the group before grabbing the 10-year-old boy and throwing him over the bridge’s iron railings and into the water. Those who witnessed the incident said the boy hit the iron girders that were attached to the bridge as he fell around five meters. As the boy was lying on the rocky waterbed in the shallow river below, the man threw a glass bottle at him before fleeing the scene.
The victim sustained injuries to his head, foot, and right shoulder. He was hospitalized but has since been released with minor injuries.
The Göttingen public prosecutor’s office has now launched an investigation into attempted murder and has conducted interviews with the eyewitnesses with the help of interpreters.
Investigators are actively searching for the attacker and estimate him to be between 40 and 45 years old. He is said to have been wearing a blue T-shirt, black cap, and denim shorts.
There have been several reported incidents against Ukrainian refugees from ethnic Russians in Germany, which has a considerable ethnic Russian minority of an estimated 3.5 million, the highest in the Western world.
However, the majority of Russian speakers in the country do not blame Ukraine for the ongoing conflict. In a poll commissioned by state broadcaster Deutsche Welle back in April, 39 percent claimed that Russia alone is responsible for the war, while just 15 percent of respondents believed Ukraine was at fault.
Just over a quarter (27 percent) said that both are equally to blame, and 7 percent stated that neither are to blame for the conflict.
Those eligible for the poll were native Russian speakers with a migration history from Russia or another former Soviet Union republic. Respondents had to have either been born in Russia or had at least one parent who had migrated from there to Germany.