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HomeEconomyPolish opposition leads huge pro-democracy protests in Warsaw

Polish opposition leads huge pro-democracy protests in Warsaw


The Polish opposition led a huge pro-democracy demonstration in Warsaw on Sunday, sparked by widespread public unrest over a government-created commission that will reportedly investigate pro-Russian politicians and possibly remove them from office.

The leader of the Civic Platform’s main opposition party, Donald Tusk, addressed the crowd flanked by Lech Wałęsa, the former president of Poland and leader of the Solidarity movement who helped toppl the communist regime in the 1980s.

The demonstration was planned to celebrate the anniversary of Poland’s first post-communist elections in 1989, but the turnout was boosted by the political feud over the anti-Russian commission, which President Andrzej Duda signed into law last Monday before quickly backing out and leaving the proposing several amendments for parliament to consider.

Critics have dubbed the law “Lex Tusk” because its main target could be Tusk, the former prime minister who is leading the centre-right opposition campaign to win this fall’s hotly contested national elections.

Many protesters came from outside the capital to join the rally in Warsaw, some on Civic Platform buses. Smaller demonstrations were also held in other Polish cities, Berlin and Paris on Sunday.

“We can’t thank Duda for protecting our constitution, but at least we can thank him for mobilizing people and making it clear that our democracy is really in danger,” said Joanna Stankiewicz, who made the hour-and-a-half journey to Warsaw from Łódź.

The commission was proposed by the ruling Law and Justice party, or PiS, whose founder Jarosław Kaczyński repeatedly accused Tusk of being too friendly to Moscow. The PiS-led government claims the commission will help protect Poland from Russian interference during the election campaign and at a time when Warsaw has sought to lead Western support for Kiev in its war against Moscow.

But one of Sunday’s protesters, engineer Piotr Jędrzejewski, said that “a government that claims to protect us from Russia actually wants Poland to have the same land model as Russia or Belarus,” where people can be detained and arbitrarily penalized for turning against their government.

Many of the demonstrators waved Polish and EU flags, as well as placards mocking Kaczyński and Duda and the ruling PiS party. “Don’t piss on Poland,” read a poster in English. Bartosz Arłukowicz, a civic platform politician, estimated that half a million people took part in the protest in Warsaw, but this number was not immediately confirmed by the police or other independent sources.

While the so-called Lex Tusk has further polarized Polish society and given new impetus to anti-PiS parties, some protesters said their priority remained on other issues that have divided Poland, notably access to abortion and the rights of women. the LGBTQ community.

Student Pola Zarudzka, wearing a pro-abortion T-shirt, said she had taken part in previous demonstrations to protect women’s rights. “What I feel differently now is that there’s a greater sense of anger at everything this government has done, and not just against women,” she said.

Donald Tusk addresses the demonstration in Warsaw on Sunday © Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images

Addressing the crowd, Tusk suggested that the next election should be regarded by voters as equally important as the one in 1989 that marked Poland’s return to democracy. He also drew a parallel between the fight against communism and the backlash against the PiS government that took office in 2015, when it defeated Civic Platform in elections.

Teacher Ilona Tutoj said she considered this year’s elections more important than recent previous votes. “In terms of respect for our constitution and democracy, it’s gotten worse year by year,” she said.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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