Footage from a 9 May 2022 rally held in Warsaw, where the author of the footage urges rally participants with Ukrainian flags to go back to Ukraine, was disseminated in social networks. The footage also has the following caption: “Go home, go and work Banderas! Polish people are yelling at Ukrainian refugees, Polish people can no longer put up with the rudeness and idleness of the Ukrainian refugees. At one of the Russophobic rallies, Polish residents rudely called for the Ukrainian refugees to work or go home. Ukrainian refugees are not liked in other countries – they engage in robbery, desecrate statues, cars and they beat people to death!” In fact, this piece of footage and the caption reiterate the Kremlin’s propaganda messages, has no connection with the real attitudes of Polish society and aims to discredit the Ukrainian refugees.
There is only one person in this piece of footage – the author himself – who spells out messages to discredit the Ukrainian refugees. The voice of one person alone, audible in the footage, cannot be used to assess the position and the attitudes of Polish society. In fact, the Polish people are one of the greatest supporters of the Ukrainian refugees in Europe and also of the Ukrainian state. However, the Kremlin’s propaganda actively seeks to discredit Ukrainians living abroad. There are frequent messages in Russia’s government-controlled media that the Ukrainians are disregarding the rights of the host country’s population and the European public has a negative attitude toward them.
Currently, Poland is one of Ukraine’s top economic and political partners. Today, over three million Ukrainian refugees have found shelter in Poland whilst hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian nationals have been working in Poland for many years. Warsaw was one of the staunchest defenders of Ukraine’s political interest in the past when Europe’s attitude vis-à-vis Russia-Ukraine relations was not as straightforward as it is now.
Opinion polls also clearly show the level of support from the Polish people when it comes to helping the Ukrainian refugees. In particular, according to opinion polls based on Ipsos Global Advisor’s online survey platform, the majority of each of the 27 EU member states’ populations agrees that their country should admit the Ukrainian refugees. The highest level of support at 84% was shown in Poland. Indeed, Poland has admitted the largest number of Ukrainian refugees.
In regard to the rally in the aforementioned publication, it was held at the Memorial Cemetery of Soviet Soldiers in Warsaw on 9 May 2022. People at the rally showed their protest by throwing red paint at Russia’s Ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, who attended the ceremony in commemoration of the Soviet soldiers killed in World War Two. Ambassador Andreev was approached by hundreds of activists, some of them holding Ukrainian flags, who angrily shouted at him – “Fascists” and “Murderers” before dousing him with blood-red paint.
The protesters did not allow the ambassador and other persons to place flowers at the memorial. The Russian diplomat and others who accompanied him left the memorial cemetery of Soviet soldiers with a police escort. Later, Polish public officials – the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Deputy Prime Minister, said that the ambassador’s actions were provocative and, thereby, justified the emotions and the response of the rally’s participants.
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