Poland investigates raising a pro-Putin banner during a farmers' protest – DW – 02/21/2024

Polish Interior Minister Marcin Kerwinsek said on Wednesday that prosecutors were investigating the appearance At a farmers' protest From the banner of exaltation Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While farmers across Europe have demonstrated for many reasons in recent months, Polish farmers are particularly angry at what they see as partisanship Unfair competition from Ukrainian imports.

What did the flag say?

The material attached to the front of the tractor, which appeared alongside the Soviet flag, read: “Putin – restore order to Ukraine, Brussels and our rulers.”

The photo appeared during a demonstration on a highway near the village of Gorzycki, close to the Czech border.

Polish farmers are imposing a border blockade in protest against EU agricultural policy, as well as imports of cheap Ukrainian grain and other products, which they say are driving down prices.

The change of government in Poland has given new impetus to pre-existing anti-EU sentiment among some segments of the populationPhoto: Beata Zorzel/Noor Photo/Photo Alliance

What did the Polish government say?

Poland's Interior Minister described the banner as “obscene” and said police immediately secured it. “There will be no approval for such criminal activities,” he added.

Under Polish law, publicly promoting a totalitarian regime is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs She said she noted “with great concern the emergence of anti-Ukrainian slogans and slogans praising Vladimir Putin and the war he is waging during the recent agricultural blockade.”

The ministry said: “We believe that this is an attempt to control the agricultural protest movement by extremist and irresponsible groups, perhaps under the influence of Russian agents.”

A spokesman for the Solidarity farmers' union said the banner was unacceptable, but rejected the suggestion that Moscow agents were seeking to influence the protest movement. He blamed a person not associated with the union for the banner.

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The relatively recent change of government in Poland, with Prime Minister Donald Tusk's more pro-EU coalition taking office, has intensified farmer protests, which have been an occasional feature for some time, often on the Ukrainian border.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media that the blockade could hinder the delivery of weapons to his country. He said he hoped to meet Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at the border, preferably before the second anniversary of Russia's all-out invasion of Ukraine on Saturday.

European Union countries support a plan to protect farmers from Ukrainian imports

In an attempt to respond to farmers' concerns, European Union member states on Wednesday backed Brussels' proposals for “guarantees” to prevent cheap Ukrainian agricultural imports from flooding the market and undermining Polish products.

Last month, the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, presented a proposal to extend duty-free entry of Ukrainian imports for another year, starting in June. But he also called for safeguards to prevent imports from driving down prices at the expense of European farmers.

The Commission's proposal envisages “rapid remedial action in the event of significant disruptions to the EU market.”

For the most sensitive products – poultry, eggs and sugar – an “emergency brake” will be applied to prevent future imports from rising beyond average volumes in 2022 and 2023.

After receiving the green light from a majority of member states, the proposal will now have to be negotiated in the European Parliament before it enters into force.

RC, MF/MSH (AFP, Reuters)

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