A uniformed far-right group entered an orphanage in an effort to stop children from being given coronavirus vaccines. The incident is the latest in a series of increasingly aggressive actions by Polish “anti-vaxxers”, which the authorities are seeking to tackle.

After a mobile vaccination point was set on fire at the weekend, the police yesterday announced they would give 24-hour protection to all such centres. Today, the health minister, Adam Niedzielski, warned anti-vaxxers that their online activities and identities are being tracked.

Last week, a group of anti-vaxxers entered an orphanage in Aleksandr贸w Kujawski, a small town in central Poland. They went to the director’s office and demanded that she stop “drugging children” as part of a “medical experiment”.

On the institution’s Facebook page comments appeared saying that staff would face a “Nuremberg trial”, reports Wysokie Obcasy. “We will take care of you personally: first the director, then the other carers,” wrote one commentator. The director has reported the threats to prosecutors.

The group that entered the orphanage was Bydgoskie Kamractwo Rodak贸w, a far-right organisation that recorded the incident and published it on YouTube. Its channel, which has thousands of followers, contains videos of other anti-vaccine protests as well as of training in the use of firearms.

The organisation’s members dress in grey-shirted uniforms with badges saying “death to enemies of the fatherland”. On their arms they display the kolovrat, a Swastika-like Slavic symbol often used by neo-Nazis and other radical-right groups in eastern Europe.

At one of its marches last month in Bydgoszcz, participants chanted “This is Poland, not Polin” – a common antisemitic slogan referring to the Hebrew name for Poland – and a speaker warned that “Jews will take power from us”.

At a separate recent anti-vaccine protest in the town of G艂og贸w – not involving Bydgoskie Kamractwo Rodak贸w – participants chanted that 鈥淛ews are behind the pandemic鈥 and 鈥渞ule the world鈥. Some protesters engaged in confrontations with the police, leading to three arrests.

In another incident last week, far-right MP Grzegorz Braun, who has a long history of conspiratorial antisemitism, forced his way into the office of the head of Poland’s Office for Registration of Medicinal Products and demanded access to documents relating to Covid vaccines.

Braun and colleagues from his Confederation (Konfederacja) party have regularly appeared at anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests. Last year, he likened the compulsory wearing of masks to how the Nazis forced Jews to wear armbands as a first step on the way to ghettoisation and then death.

On Sunday, a group of men in military-style dress broke into a family picnic being held outside a hospital in Pozna艅 to protest against a programme promoting Covid vaccines among pregnant women, reports Onet.

In the EU’s east, the far right seeks to exploit the pandemic

Following the incident at the orphanage in Aleksandr贸w Kujawski, local police announced that they would deploy more patrols to vaccination points, reports聽Gazeta Wyborcza. They are also investigating alleged antisemitic speech at the march in Bydgoszcz.

Yesterday, the national commander of police in Poland, Jaros艂aw Szymczyk, told Polskie Radio that he had ordered increased protection of vaccination points around the country following recent incidents.

The health minister warned anti-vaxxers that they were “not anonymous” online. “Your IP addresses can be identified” if there are allegations of unlawful behaviour, he said, reports TVN24.

Main image credit: Bydgoskie Kamractwo Rodak贸w/YouTube (screenshot)

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