Poland is concerned by pro-Putin slogans at farmers’ protests, saying Russian agents may be to blame


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish authorities voiced grave concerns Wednesday after slogans praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war against Ukraine appeared at Polish farmers’ protests.

The Foreign Ministry said it believed that extreme groups were trying to take over the farmers’ protest movement “perhaps under the influence of Russian agents.”

On Tuesday, one tractor at a protest in the southern region of Silesia carried a Soviet flag and a banner that said: ““Putin, put things in order with Ukraine, Brussels, and our rulers.”

Interior Minister Marcin Kierwinski called the banner “scandalous,” and said that it was immediately secured by police, and that prosecutors were also investigating.

“There will be no consent to such criminal activities,” he said.

The public promotion of a totalitarian system can be punished with up to three years in prison under Polish law.

Poland, a member of NATO and the European Union located along Ukraine’s western border, has been a staunch supporter of Kyiv since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, accepting unlimited numbers of refugees and providing Ukraine with weaponry.

Poles, with memories of past oppression by Moscow rooted deeply in generational memory, are largely supportive of Ukraine. But tensions have been growing as Polish farmers blame imports of Ukrainian grain and other food for pushing down prices.

Polish farmers are among farmers across Europe who have protesting competition from Ukraine as well as EU environmental policies, which they say will increase their production costs.

In Poland, they have also blockaded the border with Ukraine, and some spilled Ukrainian grain from freight trains on Tuesday — something strongly denounced by Ukrainian officials.

The Foreign Ministry in Warsaw said it “notes with the greatest concern the appearance of anti-Ukrainian slogans and slogans praising Vladimir Putin and the war he is waging” during recent blockades.

The ministry called on the protest organizers “to identify and eliminate from their movement” the handful of initiators, arguing that it was necessary for the country’s interest.

“The current situation of Polish farmers is the result of Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and the disruption of the global economy, not because Ukrainians are defending themselves against the aggression,” the Foreign Ministry said.

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