Thousands march in Warsaw in annual protest called by far right

·1-min read
Warsaw's central square was covered with red and white smoke -- the colour of the national flag (AFP/Adam Chelstowski)

Thousands gathered in Warsaw Thursday for an annual independence day march called by the far right and backed by the nationalist government, with protesters defying the EU at a tense time between Poland and the bloc.

Patriotic songs blasted out of loudspeakers on the capital's large central square, which was covered with red and white smoke -- the colour of the national flag -- from firecrackers and other smoke devices.

Shouting the traditional slogan "God, Honour and Country," protesters also cried out that "independence is not for sale."

Poland and the European Union have been locked in a tense fight over controversial judicial reforms in the country and other moves by Mateusz Morawiecki's populist government seen as rolling back EU democratic norms.

At stake are billions of euros in EU grants and loans that Poland has requested but that Brussels has yet to sign off on given the stalemate.

Armoured vehicles and armed security forces were out en masse in the centre of the capital, with several main roads closed to traffic.

Poland regained its independence on November 11, 1918 after it was partitioned between the Russian empire, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire for 123 years.

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