WARSAW — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Saturday condemned activists who clashed with police during Independence Day rallies, describing them as “commandos imported from Germany and other nations”.
Officers in full riot gear, armed with shields and truncheons, used tear gas and water cannons on rival groups of demonstrators, as masked protesters hurled rocks and bottles back at them.
Ninety-two Germans were among 210 people arrested by Polish police after the clashes in Warsaw that left dozens of people hurt, police said Saturday.
“They were aggressive towards passers-by and when surrounded by the police they were aggressive towards the officers,” police spokesman Maciej Karczynski told AFP. “They were arrested.”
Hanka Kubicka, a spokeswoman for anti-far-right movement the November 11 Agreement which organised several of the rallies, said the Germans were “anti-fascism activists”.
“They answered our call (to demonstrate) and our rallies were open to everyone,” she said.
Other foreigners detained during Friday’s violence included a Dane, a Hungarian and a Spaniard, according to the police.
Tusk said that “good cooperation with the German police had enabled the troublemakers to be tracked” in Poland.
Germany’s ambassador to Poland Ruediger Freiherr von Fritsch said the violence was unjustified.
“I am sorry that, at the moment Poland was celebrating freedom, some chose to abuse it. Freedom doesn’t justify recourse to violence — not in your own country and not in a host country,” he told Polish television channel TVN24.
Those injured included 40 policemen.
Several thousand right-wing nationalists and football fans were opposed by about nearly 2000 anarchists, anti-Nazi and gay-rights activists as they tried to stage a march in central Warsaw.
The right-wingers destroyed at least three police vans and two television vehicles in a rampage.