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Poland's premier condemns neo-Nazi video possibly linked to minister

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday November 29, 2006

Warsaw - Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Wednesday condemned as "scandalous" a video allegedly showing a neo-fascist party organised by the All-Poland Youth, the youth wing of the Polish government's Catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR) junior coalition partner. The video made public Tuesday by Poland's Dziennik daily shows a group of All-Poland Youth members shouting the Second World War German Nazi salute "Sieg Heil" against the backdrop of a large burning Nazi swastika.

The night-time party in question was apparently held outdoors in the Silesia region of southern Poland two years ago.

The public propagation of totalitarian ideologies such as fascism or communism is illegal in Poland.

LPR party leader and Poland's Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister Roman Giertych is the main mentor of the All Poland Youth organisation. He has denied it propagates fascism, but many of it members are known to have neo-Nazi sympathies.

"Anyone who propagates the swastika in Poland is not only an idiot, but also a criminal," Giertych was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Giertych on Wednesday distanced himself from the activities of the All Poland Youth members shown in the video. He filed a criminal complaint against the organisers of the neo-Nazi party with Poland's Ministry of Justice and denied the LPR had any links with them.

But a young woman who the video shows enthusiastically participating in the neo-Nazi party is believed to be Leokadia Zwiazek, the assistant of Roman Giertych's father Maciej, a member of the European Parliament.

Opposition politicians on Tuesday called for Giertych and his LPR party to be ousted from Kaczynski's conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party-led government.

Prime Minister Kaczynski warned of "political consequences" if links could be established between Giertych and his LPR party and the organisers of the neo-Nazi gathering in question.

"It there are such links, this would be very bad," Kaczynski told reporters in Warsaw Wednesday.

"These kinds of gestures in a country where six million citizens were murdered (by Nazi Germany during WWII) is something extremely upsetting," Kaczynski said.

The LPR's 29 seats in Poland's 460 seat upper house of parliament give the PiS a voting majority. Recent opinion polls show the LPR failing to score the 5 per cent required to enter parliament.

Other dark clouds have also been gathering over Roman Giertych this week. Press speculation has focused on whether former PiS prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz may replace him as education minister.

Marcinkiewicz is looking for a new job after recently losing to a liberal in the race for Warsaw mayor. Premier Kaczynski has vowed to invite him back into government.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency