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Poland marks Independence Day

Thousands of marchers took to the streets of Warsaw in separate rallies on Friday to mark the 98th anniversary of Poland’s independence, Polish Radio reports.

State ceremonies, speeches by political leaders and concerts were held in towns nationwide as Poles marked Independence Day.

The organizers of an Independence March in Warsaw, organized by Polish nationalists under the slogan “Poland the Bastion of Europe”, expected some 50,000 people to show up.

In recent years the Independence March on 11 November has frequently ended with outbreaks of violence and clashes with the police.

President urges harmony

Ahead of Independence Day, Polish President Andrzej Duda called for harmony. “Harmonious celebrations will be a sign that we as a nation can rise above unnecessary divides and disputes,” he said.

Last year, about 70,000 people took part in the nationalist rally in Warsaw, which was held under the slogan of “Poland for the Poles, Poles for Poland”, in reference to the refugee crisis.

Multiple marches

On Friday another march, organized by the Committee for the Defence of Democracy, which has held a string of anti-government protests over the last year, took place on a different route.

The third of the main marches has been organized by the Anti-Fascist Coalition, including the left-wing Razem (Together) party.

The organizers have said that they want to avoid any clash with the nationalists’ march.

Some 7,000 police were deployed in Warsaw.

History remembered

National Independence Day is celebrated in Poland on 11 November, marking the country regaining independence in 1918 after 123 years of partition by the Russian empire, the kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg empire.

Meanwhile, in other events on Friday, some 12,000 runners took part in the 28th Independence Run in Warsaw.

The Polish History Museum showcasing historical artefacts and memorabilia at a “Little Big Stories” exhibition. The museum was also holding outdoor games for children and adults.

A concert of Polish patriotic songs was to be held at the Warsaw Uprising Museum in the evening.

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