Russia demands Polish apology over embassy violence

Russia demands Polish apology over embassy violence

MOSCOW - Russia demanded an apology from Poland on Tuesday after far-right rioters threw firecrackers at the Russian embassy in Warsaw, reviving tension between countries that have long been at odds.

The Polish ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry and told Russia wanted an official apology and compensation for damage done to the embassy in Monday's violence, which followed a nationalist march.

Russia also asked Poland to take steps to punish those responsible, protect Russian diplomatic buildings and "prevent a repeat of such provocations in the future", the ministry said.

A Polish Foreign Ministry statement had expressed deep regret about the incident and said such behaviour deserved "strong condemnation".

Polish police used rubber bullets to break up groups of masked far-right youths when the nationalist march turned violent. The Russian ministry statement said "passivity and belated action by the police" were largely to blame.

The main target of the rioters appeared to have been any symbol of left-wing, liberal views; but for some Poles the Russian embassy is a symbol of repression during decades of Soviet domination after World War Two.

Russian media said that in addition to firecrackers, rioters threw bottles, stones and trash at the embassy and set fire to a police booth nearby.

Some Russian officials saw the violence in the context of strains between Russia and the EU over human rights and democracy as Ukraine prepares to sign a trade pact with Brussels that would mark a symbolic move away from Moscow's orbit.

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