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Poland seeks to cut funding for opposition movement

© AFP | White roses have become the symbol of the Obywatele RP (Citizens of Poland) protest movement

WARSAW (AFP) - 

Poland's interior ministry has asked a court to replace the board of a foundation tied to a protest movement, known for rallying against far-right parties and the controversial right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government.

The ministry accused the Citizens of Poland (Obywatele RP) movement of "inciting unlawful activity" and asked the court to appoint an administrator to replace the governing board of its associated foundation, a move that could cut the movement's funding.

The group rejects the allegation, insisting that it has only incited civil disobedience when and "if the Constitution or civil rights and freedoms are violated" in a statement on its website.

Often brandishing white roses, the group organised protests to prevent or disturb monthly public gatherings in Warsaw led by powerful PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski to commemorate the victims of the Smolensk air crash of 2010.

The air accident claimed 96 lives including that of President Lech Kaczynski, the twin brother of Jaroslaw.

Many in Poland regarded the monthly Smolensk commemorations, that began in 2010 and ended in April, as political rallying points designed by Kaczynski to consolidate support for the PiS.

Police have used force to remove some Citizens of Poland protesters who rallied against the Smolensk commemoration and several unrelated marches organised by far-right parties, among others.

The Citizens of Poland group said it had "blocked rallies by fascist organisations, fought against a ban on citizens entering the parliament and against restrictions imposed close to the monthly public gatherings commemorating the Smolensk tragedy."

If the court rules in favour of the ministry's request, it will "take over the foundation, its assets and the Citizens of Poland logo," the movement warned, but vowed to continue its activities regardless.

A Warsaw court told the foundation that it would look into the matter on September 10, the Polish PAP news agency reported.

© 2018 AFP