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Polish police probe pro-Putin banner at farmers’ protest

Polish farmers
Image via: X (Twitter)

Polish police said Wednesday they were investigating a banner at a farmers’ protest calling on the Russian President Vladimir Putin to get Ukraine “in order”, which sparked anger in Kyiv.

Farmers in Poland have been protesting what they say is unfair competition from cheaper imports from their eastern neighbour, an issue that has already soured ties between Warsaw and Kyiv.

During fresh protests on Tuesday, farmers in Gorzyczki, southern Poland unfurled a banner saying “Putin, get Ukraine, Brussels and our government in order” along a Soviet flag fixed to a tractor.

The picture of the banner was widely circulated on social media, prompting angry reactions from Ukrainian users.

“The banner and the flag were seized by the police during the proceedings,” a spokeswoman for the local police told AFP.

“The person who was driving the vehicle was identified. Criminal investigations are ongoing,” she added.

Officers have launched an investigation into promoting a fascist or totalitarian regime and inciting hatred, she added — an offence that carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

In recent protests, Polish farmers have blocked roads to the border and dumped Ukrainian grain from trucks and freight cars.

Poland’s ties with Ukraine have become increasingly strained over the border blockades staged by farmers, only weeks after Warsaw managed to quell a similar two-month blockade by Polish truckers.

On Wednesday, Poland’s minister in charge of the secret services, Tomasz Siemoniak, denounced the “scandalous” banner as a “provocation”.

“These are shameful words that absolutely do not correspond with the position of the state or the feelings of our citizens,” Siemoniak told Poland’s Radio Zet.

Ukraine, once dubbed “Europe’s bread basket”, has seen its agriculture sector turned upside down by Russia’s invasion.

The war has seen many of its Black Sea export hubs blockaded and has rendered some of its farmland unusable.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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