Solidarity Hero Detained During Protest Against Poland’s Government in Warsaw

A hero of Poland’s 1980s anti-communist movement Solidarity was among those detained in Warsaw this weekend, during a peaceful protest against the country’s increasingly authoritarian government.

poland_news_warsaw protestWładysław Frasyniuk (pictured) and around 100 others were detained as they protested during the June 10 monthly memorial to the 2010 Smoleńsk air accident which killed then President Lech Kaczyński. The demonstration was organised by the group Obywatele RP (Citizens of the Republic of Poland), who object to what they say is the “politicisation” of the accident.

Some protestors lay down on Warsaw’s famous Krakowskie Przedmiescie, in the path of the memorial marchers. Others chained themselves together. Police used bolt cutters to separate the latter, before forcibly removing some to a side street on suspicion of being involved in public order offences.

Obywatele RP’s Paweł Kasprzak, said it was “obnoxious” that the late President’s twin brother Jarosław Kaczyński had turned Smoleńsk mourning into a “political meeting of hatred”.

Mr Kaczyński, speaking during the event, hit back by saying “barbarity has its defenders here”.

The irony of Mr Frasyniuk’s detention is that he was decorated for his services to Poland, when President Lech Kaczyński awarded him the Order of Polonia Restituta in 2006 (see image below).

poland_news_kaczynski frasyniuk

Jarosław Kaczyński, although only a backbench MP, wields ultimate power in Poland’s governing Law and Justice party (PiS) and has never accepted the findings of Polish and Russian investigations that found the Smoleńsk air accident was caused by human error.

Marking this year’s April 10 anniversary of the crash, PiS presented a theory that the plane was deliberately brought down by a “thermobaric device” – a theory that was quickly debunked by experts. Exhumations of the victims have found that the remains of more than one person was buried in the coffin of the late President and other victims – although Russian investigators claim that Polish investigators were present when the bodies were being prepared to be returned to Poland.

Mr Kaczysńki gives speeches on the monthly and annual Smoleńsk air accident memorials, criticising his opponents. At this year’s annual event, he raised eyebrows when he described the use of white roses – in reference to non-partisan, peaceful opposition to oppression and authoritarianism – as an expression of “hatred and stupidity, extreme stupidity and extreme hatred”.

PiS have been under fire at home and abroad since being elected, largely due their sweeping disregard for the Polish Constitution, restrictions on civil liberties, and takeover of the courts and public media.