Polish prosecutors announced a probe Wednesday into a far-right lawmaker who doused a Hanukkah menorah in the parliament, a day after the incident drew harsh condemnation.
On Tuesday evening, Grzegorz Braun, a lawmaker with the ultra-nationalist Confederation Party, used a fire extinguisher to put out the candelabrum lit in the parliamentary main hall.
The incident drew criticism from all major political groupings, including from the new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who denounced the “unacceptable” act.
In a statement to the Polish state news agency, the prosecutor’s office said it had opened a probe into the incident and was “collecting evidence” in the case.
On Wednesday, parliament speaker Szymon Holownia — who had earlier ordered Braun to be temporarily barred from the plenary — said the incident “clearly falls under the Russian agenda.”
“This absolutely aggressive, stupid, bestial act that took place here yesterday… clearly is in line with the expectations of Poland’s enemies,” Holownia added.
Poland is a stalwart ally of Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion, with the newly appointed prime minister vowing to double down on efforts to provide more aid to Kyiv.
A ruling coalition lawmaker for the Third Way bloc, Marek Sawicki, said he believed the incident in parliament was “no independent act.”
“This was a job straight out of the Kremlin… it was supposed to weaken our image on the international stage,” Sawicki told public radio.
Braun, an ultra-nationalist lawmaker notorious for previous acts of anti-Semitism and statements against Ukraine, has already been fined and expelled from the parliament’s proceedings.
Lawmakers were debating the new government when the incident occurred, delaying the vote of confidence in the pro-EU cabinet led by Tusk who earlier that day pledged support for Ukraine in a keynote address.
“It was a strong message towards Moscow, and literally just a few hours later there was an attempt to undermine Poland’s position in the world,” said Pawel Kowal, a lawmaker with Tusk’s Civic Coalition.
“Such acts serve to slander Poland,” Kowal told the Rzeczpospolita daily.