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Floats at Germany’s Carnival parades satirize leading political figures



A float depicting “Barbies and Ken,” with the characters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Alice Weidel (AfD Alternative for Germany), center, and Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht) is driven through the streets during the Rose Monday parade in Mainz, Germany, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (Arne Dedert/dpa via AP)

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) — Throngs of revelers took to the streets of Germany’s Carnival strongholds on Monday, accompanied by floats that satirized the Ukrainian and Russian presidents, German politicians, former U.S. President Donald Trump and many others.

Shrove Monday parades are a traditional high point of Carnival celebrations in Cologne, Duesseldorf, Mainz and other places in western Germany, drawing large crowds of locals and visitors.

Every year, floats address current national and global political issues with biting sarcasm.

This year, a larger-than-life Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy progressed through the streets of Cologne with a sign reading “To be or NATO be.” Zelenskyy wants Ukraine to be able to join the Western military alliance.

In Duesseldorf, a float depicted Trump stabbing a Ukrainian soldier in the back — a reference to opposition among Republicans to aid for Ukraine. Another had the ex-president and 2024 presidential candidate carrying scissors and a U.S. flag cut into the shape of a swastika.

A float depicting US presidential candidate Donald Trump stabbing a Ukrainian soldier in the back is driven through the Rose Monday parade, in Düsseldorf, Germany, Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

In Mainz, a “Barbies and Ken” pink car float featured Russian President Vladimir Putin behind the co-leaders of two German political parties, the far-right Alternative for Germany and the new Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance, that criticize sanctions against Russia and oppose weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

The war between Israel and Hamas was also a theme. A float in Duesseldorf depicted a figure in military garb labeled “Hamas” pushing what appeared to be a family toward an Israeli tank.

Germany’s unpopular government came in for lampooning, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz portrayed as a sloth and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock as an elephant in a porcelain shop, the German equivalent of a bull in a china shop.

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