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24.8 C
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Monday, December 5, 2022
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    Thousands join nationalist march on Polish Independence Day

    WARSAW, POLAND (AP) – Tens of thousands in Warsaw marched peacefully on Friday in a yearly Independence Day march organised by Polish nationalist groups that included some anti-Ukrainian and anti-European Union (EU) slogans.

    The march is controversial because it’s led by far-right groups and has included violence and white nationalists in past years.

    But many people, including some with young children, also march, seeing the event as a way to show patriotism. Many drove hundreds of kilometres to Warsaw to take part.

    “We are proud and happy to be Polish and to have an independent state and we want to celebrate that,” said Miroslawa Dobiasz, 64, who drove with her family from Tarnobrzeg in the southeast.

    Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, a liberal who opposes the event, said at a news conference that he was relieved that it avoided the violence of past years but was still disturbed by the anti-Ukrainian and anti-EU messages.

    Many people carried Poland’s white-and-red flag, and some threw smoke flares. Others also yelled angry slogans against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    A large number of police officers were deployed and kept a group of anti-fascist counter-protesters separated from the march participants to avoid clashes.

    One activist said an officer removed him and others who were chanting that they have the right to demonstrate. They were told their gathering was illegal.

    The Independence Day holiday celebrates the restoration of Poland’s national sovereignty in 1918, at the end of World War I.

    Polish nationalists in the Warsaw march. PHOTO: AP
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