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Polish report
by Euro Reporter
2016-07-03 10:32:32
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Poland 'shocked' by xenophobic abuse of Poles in UK

Poland's ambassador in London has expressed shock and concern about what he said were incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community following the UK's decision to leave the European Union. Dozens of alleged racist incidents were reported to the police in parts of England over the weekend, including cases where Poles and other eastern Europeans were the victims of racial abuse. In Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, local media said police were investigating reports that signs reading "No more Polish vermin" had been distributed in the area, including outside schools, hours after the referendum's result -  a 52 to 48 split in favour of Britain's exit - was announced on Friday.

poland_400In a separate incident in Hammersmith, west London, the front of a Polish cultural centre was reportedly smeared with offensive graffiti. "We are shocked and deeply concerned by the recent incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community and other UK residents of migrant heritage," Witold Sobkow, the Polish ambassador in London, said in a statement on Monday. Sobkow said the embassy had been in contact with the "relevant institutions" and that police were investigating the Hammersmith and Huntingdon cases. "We call on all Polish nationals who fall victim of xenophobic abuse and on all witnesses to report such incidents to local authorities," Sobkow said.

The approximately 800,000-strong Polish community in the UK accounts for one of the top three minority groups in the country. On Thursday, the UK became the first country in the history of the European Union to vote to leave the 28-member bloc, following a referendum campaign replete with racism and fear. The issue of immigration dominated the public debate in the run-up to the vote, with Brexit backers arguing that the UK could never control immigration until it left the EU. In the aftermath of the murder of Labour MP Jox Cox, campaigners for Brexit faced accusations that they caused the debate about immigration to become too toxic. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative Party chairwoman and the first Muslim woman to serve in the Tory cabinet, defected to the "Remain" camp before the vote, citing "hate and xenophobia" as the reasons for changing her position. A few days before the referendum, the far-right, anti-immigrant UKIP party was accused of racism after unveiling a poster showing a queue of refugees with the slogan "Breaking point" and a plea to leave the EU.


Poland suspends small border traffic with Ukraine

Starting from July 4 Poland will suspend small border traffic with Ukraine, the measure will stay in force for less than a month.

The State Border Service of Ukraine warned, that from July 4 till August 2 the residents of border areas of Ukraine would be able to cross into Polish territory only according to the standard procedure, i.e. having international passport and visa.

Poland's Foreign Ministry says the suspension of small border traffic is due to the upcoming NATO summit, which will take place in Warsaw on 8-9 at the presidential level, as well as the events related to the World Youth Day in Krakow, when the Polish city expects around 2.5 million visitors.


Soviet troop monuments in Poland to be moved to new museum

More than 200 monuments marking the Soviet army's liberation of Poland at the end of World War Two are to be moved to an open-air museum. They were erected to glorify the Red Army's vital role in ousting the Nazis. But many Poles say it also ushered in four decades of Soviet-inspired communism, and want the monuments to be displayed in historical context. The plan could anger Russia, which has not been consulted. Relations between both countries are tense.  The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) proposes to house the monuments in a park in the former Soviet base at Borne Sulinowo, a small town north-west of Warsaw, where they will be used for the purpose of teaching history.

Andrzej Zawistowski, director of the IPN's education department, said the plan includes 229 monuments that refer to "what we consider as untruth: gratitude for having given Poland independence." Poland, now a western ally and NATO member, sees the Soviet domination following the end of the war as a period of oppression, and its relations with Moscow have been strained for some years. Poland and Russia are loggerheads over a number of issues, notably Russia's policy on Ukraine and EU sanctions on Moscow. The plan is diplomatically sensitive.

The Kremlin protested strongly when a Soviet monument was removed from the town of Pieniezno last year. Russia says it exposed a lack of gratitude for the sacrifice of the Soviet troops who freed Poland from the Nazis. More than 20 million Soviet soldiers died in World War Two. Moscow argues that Poland is obliged to protect all war memorials under a 1994 bilateral agreement with Russia. But Poland says the agreement covers only cemeteries, which are not affected under the plan. "The plan will include only monuments expressing the gratitude towards the Red Army, and it will not affect Soviet cemeteries," said Mr Zawistowski. "The educational park will show these monuments within the right historical context," Mr Zawistowski said. "Educational parks and institutions of this type exist equally in other states such as Lithuania, Hungary or even Russia." The institute says it will help with the removal of the monuments and their installation in the museum. But it is up to city councils whether they want them cleared.


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