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Polish law may prompt Russia to stop protecting its memorials — lawmaker

On June 22, Polish President Adrzej Duda authorized amendments to the law banning Communist or other totalitarian propaganda

MOSCOW, July 26. /TASS/. In response to Poland’s new law targeting monuments to Soviet soldiers, Russia may also withhold its obligations to preserve and protect Polish memorials in Russia, a senior Russian legislator told reporters on Wednesday.

Konstantin Kosachev said this may happen if the new Polish law comes into effect three months from now. If Poland refuses "to return to the earlier existing understanding of these agreements, a new stage may come from our point of view: we will stop implementing these two agreements as to care of Polish memorials on the Russian territory", said Kosachev, the chairman of the upper house’s international affairs committee.

According to Konstantin Kosachev, the crash scene of the plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski is one of these memorials. "Now the Polish side is planning to build a memorial according to parameters and sizes, and the issue is far from being completed," he added.

He said obligations on caring for monuments are regulated by two agreements - of 1992 and 1994. "We have read both documents and deem as inacceptable the way the Polish side interprets these agreements 20 years after they were signed," he said.

"Previously, we shared the same stance with the Polish side - all memorials are involved. In 2014, they changed their interpretation and notified us that only burial sites are involved," he explained.

He believes attempts must be made to return Poland within the legal understanding of these agreements, and there is still time for this, as the Polish law will come into effect three months from now. He said if this fails to happen, "measures of restrictive nature in cooperation with Poland, starting with sanctions targeting parliamentarians who initiated the bill" may follow.

"We are categorically against sanctions targeting parliamentarians, but sometimes no place for maneuvers remains. These are extreme measures," Kosachev said. He said Russia could also restrict cooperation with Polish provinces where monuments to Soviet soldiers are located, as well as impose trade and economic sanctions. He said work on tit-for-tat measures is already underway, but the decisions "must be made at the level of the Russian president".

Poland’s ‘anti-propaganda’ law

On June 22, Polish President Adrzej Duda authorized amendments to the law banning Communist or other totalitarian propaganda, which took effect in April 2016.

The amendments envision dismantling monuments and memorial plaques dedicated to Soviet soldiers who liberated Poland from Nazi occupation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier described Poland’s move as a deliberate provocation, which will not remain without consequences. According to the ministry, Russia has repeatedly drawn Warsaw’s attention to the fact that such actions are a violation of its obligations under international law stemming from bilateral treaties and agreements reached by Moscow and Warsaw in 1992-1994, under which Polish authorities must preserve and protect all such monuments.