Russia demands apology after Polish nationalists attack Warsaw embassy on Independence Day

Attack opens up old wounds in near-neighbours' complicated history

Russia has demanded an apology, compensation and extra protection from Poland after its embassy in Warsaw came under attack from a nationalist mob.

The rioters were attached to a nationalist march to coincide with the country's Independence Day on Monday. They threw firecrackers, bottles and stones at the embassy, on the southern outskirts of the city centre, and torched a police guards' cabin. Police said 72 people were arrested, and 14 went to hospital with injuries.

The two countries share a tragic and bloody history which stretches back hundreds of years. Particular bitterness still surrounds Soviet domination of communist Poland from 1945 until the 1980s, and the Katyn massacre of 1940, in which thousands of Polish prisoners of war were slaughtered.

The Polish ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, where the Russians insisted Poland take steps to punish those responsible and "prevent a repeat of such provocations in the future".

Poland's Foreign Ministry expressed deep regret about the incident and said such behaviour deserved "strong condemnation".

Polish riot police used rubber bullets on Monday to break up groups of masked far-right youths who threw firecrackers and set fire to parked cars during a nationalist march through the center of the capital Polish riot police used rubber bullets on Monday to break up groups of masked far-right youths who threw firecrackers and set fire to parked cars during a nationalist march through the center of the capital Police used rubber bullets to break up the mob of far-right youths, but Russia said "passivity and belated action by the police" were largely to blame.

The day had started peacefully with a "Together for Independence" march, attended by dignitaries including President Bronisław Komorowski, and a ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

But, according to local press, shortly afterwards came the nationalist "March for Independence".

According to Polish news websites, police spokesman Mariusz Sokołowski said: "We are dealing with a group of several hundred people who are intent on breaking the law."

The day started with a ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier The day started with a ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier And Prime Minister Donald Tusk said: “This situation is unacceptable – this kind of event cannot take place. Those who tolerate and accept such events will bear responsibility.” He also suggested such marches might be banned in future.

But Artur Zawisza, one of the leaders of the march, which is spearheaded by the All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp (ONR), said: “No piece of paper from the Town Hall will stop us marching towards independence.”

Click here to see more pictures from the unrest

The nasty scenes occurred as international delegates gathered in the city for the UN's climate conference. The high-profile gathering is at the country's national stadium.

The main target of the rioting appeared to have been any symbol of left-wing, liberal views, with the rioters setting fire to a rainbow sculpture - a clear symbol of tolerance towards homosexuals in the strongly Catholic country.

Nationalists set fire to a rainbow installation Nationalists set fire to a rainbow installation According to Reuters news agency, some Russian officials saw the violence in the context of strains between Russia and the EU over human rights and democracy as Ukraine prepares to sign a trade pact with Brussels that would mark a symbolic move away from Moscow's orbit.

One suggested the unrest showed the problem of nationalist violence is more serious in the EU than in Russia, where anti-migrant rioting rocked Moscow last month.

"The events in Warsaw show: Nationalism is immeasurably stronger in several EU countries than it is in Russia," Alexei Pushkov, the head of the international affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, said on Twitter. "The EU should not lecture us but deal with its own members."

Riot policemen advance to cordon off far-right protesters during the annual far-right march, which coincides with Poland's national Independence Day in Warsaw Riot policemen advance to cordon off far-right protesters during the annual far-right march, which coincides with Poland's national Independence Day in Warsaw Mikhail Margelov, the head of the equivalent committee in the upper chamber, said the violence had "turned Poland from an influential member of the European Union into ... a third world country," Interfax news agency reported.

Poland has been a strong supporter of closer EU integration with neighbouring Ukraine before a summit in Lithuania on Nov 28-29, at which Kiev could sign an association agreement and develop trade ties with Brussels.

Cars leaving the Russian embassy on Tuesday morning Cars leaving the Russian embassy on Tuesday morning  

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea