Warsaw, June 4 : Hundreds of thousands of Poles, including former President Lech Walesa – who had spearheaded the revolt against communist rule in the early 1980s – and former PM Donald Tusk, gathered in Warsaw on Sunday for a protest against the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, media reports said.
Most opposition parties have called on supporters to join the march, billed as one of the largest since the fall of communism in 1989, the BBC reported.
The Warsaw Mayor’s officer estimated half a million people attended the event, including many coming to the capital from across the country.
Simultaneous demonstrations have been held in other Polish cities like Krakow.
Crowds of people have been pictured waving Polish and EU flags and holding placards, and participants told the BBC that protesters were chanting “democracy” and “we will win”.
A wide variety of issues brought protests together, including frustrations over inflation, costs of living, and rights for women and LGBT, as well as concerns have also been raised against new law accused of undermining Poland’s democracy, it said.
The law, criticised by the EU and US, sets up a commission to investigate undue Russian influence in Polish politics, and has the power to ban people from assuming public office for 10 years.
The government denies it is subverting democracy and President Andrzej Duda has proposed amendments to remove these powers.
But critics say it could still be used against people, including Tusk – Poland’s main opposition leader and head of the centrist Civic Platform party.
Tusk, a former head of the European Council, also welcomed supporters during the “record” march.
“Democracy dies in silence but you’ve raised your voice for democracy today, silence is over, we will shout,” said Tusk, who shared photos and videos of the massive protests on his Twitter account.
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