Poland’s authorities back far-right march banned by courts

World News

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s authorities weighed in Tuesday to back a controversial Independence Day march dominated by far-right activists, saying the event will go ahead as a state observance, despite having been banned by Polish courts.

The spokeswoman for Poland’s main right-wing ruling party, Anita Czerwinska, confirmed that the Nov. 11 march in Warsaw will have an official status and appealed to prospective participants to exhibit a “dignified” approach.

Last month, head of the nationalist Independence March organization defied the court bans and said the march will go ahead but in a smaller form, as required by pandemic restrictions.

The annual Nov. 11 march has earned a bad reputation since becoming dominated by far-right, nationalist groups, with the right-wing government’s consent. It has featured radical slogans and violence, with some people being injured last year and a bookstore and an apartment being set on fire.

Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, a top opposition figure, banned the march this year and Warsaw courts upheld the ban.

But a state veterans organization said Tuesday it was giving the march an official status, which means it will go ahead and will have police and army gendarmerie ensuring security.

The office of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he will be in Krakow, in the south, on Thursday and will not participate.

The back-and-forth seemed to be tainted by an political tug-of-war between Poland’s right-wing government and Trzaskowski, who narrowly lost last year to pro-government President Andrzej Duda in the presidential election.

“We hope there will be no provocations or incidents,” said Ryszard Terlecki, a deputy parliament speaker and a top figure in the ruling Law and Justice party.

Originally a popular, massive event marking Poland’s regaining sovereignty on Nov. 11, 1918, after World War I, the annual march has attracted far-right groups in recent years under Poland’s right-wing government. Nationalists from other countries have also traveled to Warsaw to take part.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.