Polish far-right Independence Day march defies Warsaw ban

WARSAW, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Thousands of people took part in an annual far-right march in Warsaw to mark Poland’s Independence Day on Wednesday, defying a ban imposed by city hall due to coronavirus restrictions.

Planned as a drive through the capital’s main arteries to circumvent the ban, the march spilled into the streets, with pedestrians carrying Poland’s red-and-white flags, firing flares and holding up banners that said “Our civilisation, our rules”.

The annual event has become a friction point between far-right groups and supporters of the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on one side and their liberal opponents on the other.

Authorities in Warsaw, which is governed by a centrist mayor, accused the state-run police force of facilitating the march.

“The law is being broken here,” said Karolina Galecka, a city hall spokeswoman. “Police have spent 12 hours preparing to secure the march, we were not informed about this ... and at this point you could say the police are co-organising it.”

The police said on Twitter some flares had been confiscated and participants were being informed that their gathering was illegal.

A far-right lawmaker called on protesters to “rebel in the name of values and national unity”.

“The left tells you it is offering freedom. What kind of freedom is it? It’s freedom to drink, take drugs and have free sex. That’s all the freedom they have to offer,” Robert Winnicki said, surrounded by a crowd chanting “God, honour, fatherland”.

Reporting by Alicja Ptak, Alan Charlish and Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Nick Macfie