Far-right, liberals rally on Poland's Independence Day

Warsaw (AFP) –


Tens of thousands of Poles including far-right nationalists poured onto the snowy streets of Warsaw on Friday to mark 98 years since Poland regained independence.

Members of several far-right parties who descended on the city centre for their "Independence March" created a sea of red-and-white Polish flags and burning red flares.

Marchers, including families with young children, chanted slogans ranging from "God, Honour, Homeland" to "We will hang communists on trees instead of leaves." Anti-abortion slogans and banners "Abortion = Murder" were also seen.

Right-wing Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said police estimated 75,000 people took part in the march. Organisers claimed it drew over 100,000 participants.

Thousands also flocked to a separate march in the Polish capital organised by the KOD Committee for the Defence of Democracy, a protest movement organised by liberal that sprang up earlier this year against the rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) government.

KOD leaders accuse PiS reforms, notably to Poland's top court -- the Constitutional Tribunal -- of undermining democracy, a concern that had been echoed by the European Union.

PiS Interior Minister Blaszczak said the march drew 10,000 people.

Around 7,000 policemen were deployed to ensure security and the routes of the two marches were kept separate to avoid the possible clashes.