Ban overturned on Polish independence march by nationalists

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The mayor of Warsaw on Wednesday banned radical Polish nationalists from marching on the 100th anniversary of Poland's independence due to security concerns.

Krzysztof Bosak, the deputy head of the National Movement, a far-right party that is also a co-organizer, said the march would take place despite the ban, which will be appealed.

Gronkiewicz-Waltz, who hails from the opposition Civic Platform party, which is bitterly at odds with Poland's ruling conservatives, said: "Warsaw has suffered enough through aggressive nationalism".

"The celebration of the 100th anniversary of regaining independence by the Polish state shouldn't look like this", she added.

But the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, and the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, got behind her decision.

Last year's event, which attracted an estimated 60,000 people, received widespread worldwide condemnation for the presence of racist and xenophobic banners and slogans and instances of violence directed at counter-protesters.

Numerous protesters carried provocative banners and shouted slogans, such as "Pure blood, clear mind" and "Europe will be white or uninhabited".

The organisers of the march lodged an appeal against the ban and said they meant to march regardless.

A rally is held annually in the capital on November 11 to commemorate the anniversary of Poland's independence at the end of World War One.

The government said the defence ministry had assumed responsibility for security at the march and extremist symbols would be banned, raising the prospect of confrontations between radical groups and military personnel on the streets of Warsaw.

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Duda and the government had been engaged in negotiations with the organisers in the hope that they could be persuaded to march under state auspices in return for agreeing not to allow racist or extremist banners.

Chants included "The whole Poland sings with us: F*** off with the refugees", "Not red, not rainbow but national Poland", "One nation across the borders", and "F*** Antifa".

A similar ban on a far-right Independence Day march was announced Tuesday by the mayor of the western Polish city of Wroclaw, who cited the risk that participants might incite racial and ethnic hatred.

Another divisive issue has been a statue being unveiled Saturday of the late President Lech Kaczynski in a central Warsaw square.

While many denied membership of or sympathy for extreme right groups, the event also drew representatives of far-right parties from Britain, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia.

Kaczynski, who was killed in a 2010 plane crash in Russian Federation, was the identical twin of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the right-wing Law and Justice party that is now in power.

Meanwhile, a controversial statue of the late president Lech Kaczynski was installed in a central Warsaw square ahead of its weekend unveiling as part of the centennial celebrations.

While Poles united in mourning the tragedy that took his life and 95 others, including the first lady, they are deeply divided on whether he deserves such heroic status. The clash is playing out in Poland's court system even as the 7-meter (23-foot) statue went up.

This year, Poland is celebrating the centenary of its independence, gained in 1918 at the end of World War I. Special tributes to fallen and injured servicemen will also include a Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in London.

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