More than 200,000 nationalists took part in Poland’s annual independence day rally in Warsaw, far surpassing the previous year’s turnout and a slap in the face for the far leftist mayor of the Polish capital who unsuccessfully tried to outlaw this year’s march.
The rally was address by Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda after a last-minute agreement was struck between senior politicians and the event’s organizers. The rally originated in a ceremony to mark the the anniversary of the re-establishment of the country’s independence in 1918.
Earlier this week, Warsaw’s outgoing mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, announced she was banning the march due to concerns surrounding security and “aggressive nationalism.”
Hours after Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s announcement Duda announced the Polish state would be organising its own march at the same time and along the same route as the nationalist march. A court overturned the mayor’s ban a day after it was announced.
The agreement struck between the state and the march organizers said that participants in the state-sanctioned section of the event would march first, followed closely behind by participants in the nationalist march, separated by a cordon of military police.
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Lining up in parallel columns, Polish soldiers stood side-by-side with members of the National-Radical Camp (ONR), and representatives of the Italian Forza Nuova, an Italian neo-fascist movement, as they were addressed by Duda at the march’s inauguration.
“I want us to walk under our white-and-red banners together and in an air of joy. To give honor to those who fought for Poland, and to be glad that it is free, sovereign and independent,” Duda said, before leading the crowd in chants of “glory and praise to the heroes” and a rendition of the national anthem.