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Russia attacks demolition of war momument

PR dla Zagranicy
Jo Harper 05.07.2015 07:25
Russia has attacked the decision of a Polish town to demolish a memorial to the Soviet war dead.
Statue of Jozef Poniatowski. Photo: PAP/Tomasz GzellStatue of Jozef Poniatowski. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell

“We treat this openly unfriendly step from the Polish side as a serious and clear breach of the rules of understanding between the government of the Russian Federation and the government of the Republic of Poland on the graves and the sites of remembrance of victims of war and repression made on 22 February 1994,” the Russian foreign ministry wrote.

In the place of the monument that was demolished on 30 June the authorities of the town of Nowa Sól have decided to erect a memorial to the Heroes of the Struggle for Poland.

The new statue will display an eagle on a crown, after one of the country’s most important awards, the order of the Virtuti Militari, the oldest military award in the world established in 1792 by King Stanisław August Poniatowski.

Its official unveiling will take place on Independence Day, 11 November.

Poland has been one of Russia’s fiercest critics in its role in eastern Ukraine and vociferous in its calls for strengthening NATO forces in the region. Since 2014 Russia has had an embargo on imports of certain Polish food products.

The Russian foreign ministry wrote on its website that the decision has “had the blessing of Warsaw” and had “not had any consultations with the Russian side.”

“The Polish authorities did not hear several calls to keep the statue. The impression arises that this [Russia’s sacrifice in the war] has acquired second rate political significance. Warsaw must understand that ‘the statue war’ will have exceptionally negative consequences for which its initiators are exclusively responsible,” the Russian ministry wrote.

The Polish foreign ministry refuted the Russian claims. “If we are talking about the place of remembrance, we are carrying out an inter-governmental plan. Cemeteries of Red Army soldiers fallen in the war are protected and under the care of the state, but when it comes to statues, their fate is decided by local authorities,” ministry spokesperson Marcin Wojciechowski said.

The decision to demolish the statue was taken by the president of Nowa Sól Wadim Tyszkiewicz.

The State of the Heroes of the 2nd World War had been in its location in the town since the late 1960s having been unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of the October revolution in 1917. (jh)

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