GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany: Thousands of demonstrators marched in the German resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday to protest against a meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations that starts on Sunday at a nearby luxury hotel.
Carrying banners reading “Fight G7 for Revolution” and “G7 go to hell! I like Putin,” the protesters converged near the railway station in the picturesque sun-drenched town at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze.
Police estimated the crowd at 2,000 while organizers put it at up to twice that number. Demonstrators jeered the police, who outnumbered them massively, but there was no violence.
“I’m protesting because the big financial corporations have too much influence over politics,” said Thomas Schmidbauer, 50, from Sindlsdorf in Bavaria, who was dressed in traditional Bavarian lederhosen shorts.
“Poverty isn’t being tackled. It is unfair. We could organize our economies much better for the people,” he added.
Some 17,000 German police have been deployed around the summit site in the Bavarian Alps and another 2,000 Austrian police were on standby across the nearby border.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will welcome the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union on Sunday at a meeting expected to focus on issues like climate change, the fight against pandemics, Middle East turmoil and an upsurge of violence in Ukraine.
They are also due to discuss the world economic recovery and officials said Greece’s unresolved debt standoff with its IMF and euro zone creditors, which is weighing on financial markets, would figure on the sidelines.
This will be the second summit of industrial nations to exclude Russia, frozen out of the G8 following its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last year.
Rainer Lipfert, 71, wearing a red t-shirt saying “Putin sympathizer,” said excluding Russian President Vladimir Putin would only escalate the conflict.
“We’re seeing the beginning of a Cold War now with both sides rattling their sabres,” he said.
Merkel spoke to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko before the G7 summit and they called for all sides to respect a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine after the latest flare-up blamed by European observers on Russian-backed separatists, a German government spokeswoman said.