Warsaw court bans far-right march, nationalists plan appeal

·2 min read

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish court on Wednesday upheld the Warsaw mayor's ban on an annual march organized by nationalists on Poland's Independence Day, but organizers pledged to appeal the ruling and insisted the march would go ahead as planned.

The Nov. 11 march has attracted large numbers of participants in recent years, underlining the rising support for the far right in Poland and elsewhere. Nationalists from other countries also travel to Warsaw to take part, while organizers have received funding and other support from the right-wing Polish government.

Konstanty Radziwill, the governor of the region where Warsaw is located and a member of the ruling Law and Justice part approved the march last week. But Warsaw's District Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of an appeal by Rafal Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of the capital, who sought to ban this year's march following violence a year ago.

Independence March organization head Robert Bakiewicz called the ruling “shameful” and said his organization would appeal and that “the march will take place."

The Nov. 11 national holiday marks when Poland regained its sovereignty after World War I.

It's only in recent years that nationalist groups have turned out in large numbers to overshadow commemorations with marches that have turned violent at times. Some participants have voiced white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideas in the past.

At last year's march, police used tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with far-right supporters. The march had taken place despite a ban on public gatherings due to the pandemic.

Poland’s right-wing government has promoted and even taken part the march and has shown tacit acceptance of far-right groups ever since it took power in 2015.

Two groups led by Bakiewicz, the Independence March Association and the National Guard, received 3 million zlotys ($755,000; 650,000 euros) in funds from a state body earlier this year.

The groups received the grants from the so-called Patriot Fund run by the Roman Dmowski and Ignacy Jan Paderewski Institute for the Heritage of National Thought which is subordinate to the Ministry of Culture.

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