Protest in Moscow fuels Russia-Poland tension

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 13, 2013 10:12 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Protesters threw firecrackers at the Polish embassy in Moscow on Wednesday in response to a similar attack on the Russian mission in Warsaw, further straining ties between countries with a history of troubled relations.

Poland expressed "deep concern" over the incident, one day after Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the Polish ambassador to Moscow to demand an apology over Monday's violence in Warsaw, in which firecrackers were also thrown.

"Poland is demanding detailed explanations from the Russian side on this matter," the Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the incident outside its Moscow embassy.

Russian police detained three men after the protest, which the opposition group Other Russia said was intended as a tit-for-tat response to the violence at the Russian embassy in Warsaw after a nationalist march.

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.

Grievances between Warsaw and Moscow go back centuries, but modern-day disputes include mutual recriminations over the 2010 plane crash near the Russian city of Smolensk that killed Poland's president and 95 others.

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Since the end of Communist rule in 1989, Poland has pursued close integration with the West and has trade and security disputes with Russia. It became a NATO member in 1999 and joined the European Union in 2004, and plans to host parts of a NATO missile defense system on its soil, a project opposed by Moscow.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Moscow and Dagmara Leszkowicz in Warsaw, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Angus MacSwan)