Far-right Poles think of Ukraine as they march to mark Independence Day

Far-right Poles think of Ukraine as they march to mark Independence Day


Warsaw’s annual “Independence March” by far-right nationalist groups has long been used to represent Polish pride, but Ukraine was on their minds at this year’s event.

“Hitler is dead, but Putin is alive and he’s repeating history with the Ukrainians,” said Stanislav Fidurski, a 95-year-old retired colonel, at the Friday march, which was led by four hussars in period costumes.

He said Poland could form a larger state with Ukraine – an idea supported by two seventy-year-olds, Marek and Piotr, who said it would help Warsaw “resist Russia”.

Fidurski, dressed in a military uniform with his medals, was among the approximately 10,000 people who took part in the march – fewer than usual.

They sang the national anthem, which was punctuated by the explosion of firecrackers and the flaring of smoke flares.

The event commemorating Poland’s Independence Day can be a lightning rod for controversy, pitting conservative groups against more liberal Poles.

Many in the crowd waved red and white Polish flags and carried the banners of small far-right parties and Catholic groups, as well as hoisted placards denouncing pro-LGBTQ policies.

“This march carries the idea of ??rebirth of Poles faced with materialism, consumerism and internationalization,” said Jacek Krzystek, co-founder of the Independence March.

“We want to get rid of certain things that are unfortunately destroying Western Europe,” he said without elaborating.

Some activists from a small ultra-nationalist party, the Confederation of the Polish Crown, waved a sign calling on Warsaw to “stop the Ukrainization of Poland”.

“This is not our war,” blared another banner at the demo.

More than 7.8 Ukrainians have fled since the Russian invasion in February, according to the UN refugee agency. Neighbors like the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have opened their borders, homes and wallets to help the war refugees.

“Freedom is always important, no matter the context. You have to take care of it because you can lose them quickly,” said Marek Krason, who traveled to the march with his nine-year-old son from the south-eastern Rzeszów region.

But there are limits, he said.

“We must help the Ukrainians who need it, but without going insane,” Krason said.

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