Sunday, June 10, 2012


Our glorious advance across the planet
Is dazzling, while noticed from afar
And Russian scriptures flaring on a granite
All over lavatory in Paris are

V. Vysotsky

Poland, whose chief worry these days is to count the score, goals and seconds, has expectedly faced more than just Euro Cup-related problems. On Jun 8 Warsaw authorities have registered the application of Russian fans, willing to march through the centre of Polish capital, celebrating the Russia Day (June 12). Thus, we are getting a unique opportunity to compare the Moscow march against the one in Warsaw.
Just like any other country, Poland is far from being politically uniform. With a certain degree of understatement we may say that today the county is split into three major factions, featuring three different kinds of political attitude to Russia. The first one is the supporters of rightist-liberal Civil Platform of Donald Tusk, a party that stays in power for the second time in a row. The second one is the ultra-right “mohair berets”, who stand for PiS (the brainchild of the late President Lech Kaczynski’s brother Jaroslaw). The third one is those voters, who back the enfante terrible of Polish politics — Janusz Palikot, a millionaire, who has made his fortune selling vodka, philosopher by education, leftist-liberal anti-clerical politician, who stands up for legalization of soft drugs. Palikot, being a man of pragmatic principles, keeps his opinion regarding the assumed Russian march to himself.
Civil Platform treats the initiative of Russian fans with the greatest politeness possible (given the circumstances of Polish political life). Warsaw President Hanna Gronkievicz-Waltz, former Chair of Polish Central Bank and the member of the ruling party, does her best to neutralize the negative Polish reaction to the upcoming political performance. Since a massive political rally of foreigners, who don’t even live in the said country is not what you call an ordinary event (neither is it stipulated by the Polish legislation — imagine American rally at the Sochi Olympic Games, timed to Abraham Lincoln birthday, which, coincidentally, happen to be on Feb 12), resourceful Madam Hanna has announced that this would be merely a “passing of Russian fans to the stadium, where Russia is to play against Poland”. Our national team resides at the Warsaw-based Bristol hotel, which is situated at the historical centre of the city, at the Krakowskim Przedmieściu Street, right beside the presidential palace, and that complicates the situation furthermore. Everything in this place reminds of our uneasy shared history.
Even the presidential palace itself was previously called the governor’s palace (Pałac Namiestnikowski) and it hosted the Serene prince of Warsaw Ivan Paskevicz, who was awarded with the title for suppressing the Polish tumult in 1830. Nowadays, supporters of the late President Kaczynski gather by the palace each tenth of the month to commemorate his memory. Most of them put the blame for Smolensk catastrophe, which claimed the lives of 96 members of Polish political establishment, on Russia. All these things combined have triggered the negative PiS reaction to the Russian initiative. Prominent Polish columnist and documental movie director WVitold Gadowski has published an article under a following headline: “March of liberators. An aggressive rally amidst the city hosting a gigantic event cannot but cause apprehensions.” Gadowski believes the march to be a “well-planned action that intends to humiliate Poles in their own capital, a clear signal of the imperial comeback and a message to NATO — ‘Poland is ours, not yours’”. Another thing that filled the Polish journalist with indignation was the symbolism of the USSR (which the rally surely won’t be able to get by without), “the state, whose dictator allowed Germans to kill Warsaw citizens and devastate the city”. Solidarity 2010 (radical wing of PiS party) also prepares itself for the Russian march. They are going to hit Warsaw streets with the mottos like “Europe, open your eyes”, “Putin on the attack”, “Polish President was killed in Russia on Apr 10, 2010” and “Do you believe Putin, the KGB agent?” Gazeta Wyborcza is even making sorrowful jokes about the forthcoming second battle for Warsaw, implying at the failed Bolshevist crusade against Warsaw in 1920.
Our fans have already made it to the Polish police reports, so that the UEFA started the disciplinary investigation in regard Russia. Football Union of Russia was even forced to remind our fans about the need to “respect themselves, their Motherland and their team”. Russian delegation has made a diplomatic gesture, bringing flowers to the memorial board for the Smolensk catastrophe victims, but the unpleasant feeling of a major international scandal coming our way still overhangs Polish capital.

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