Poland: the act of the MP who extinguished a Hanukkah candlestick in Parliament denounced by the President of the Diet as part of the “Russian agenda”

The gesture of Polish far-right MP Grzegorz Braun, who used a fire extinguisher on Tuesday evening to extinguish a Hanukkah, a nine-branched candlestick symbol of Judaism, in Parliament, was widely condemned by the country's main political parties

Poland: the act of the MP who extinguished a Hanukkah candlestick in Parliament denounced by the President of the Diet as part of the “Russian agenda”

The gesture of Polish far-right MP Grzegorz Braun, who used a fire extinguisher on Tuesday evening to extinguish a Hanukkah, a nine-branched candlestick symbol of Judaism, in Parliament, was widely condemned by the country's main political parties. Some point to a mission “dictated directly from the Kremlin”. The new Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, denounced an “unacceptable” act.

The prosecutor's office announced in a press release on Wednesday, December 13, that it had opened an investigation against the MP who is a member of the ultranationalist Konfederacja party ("the confederation") and was in the process of "gathering evidence" on the incident.

The Speaker of the Diet, the lower house of Parliament, Szymon Holownia, who temporarily excluded Mr. Braun from the plenary session, considered that the incident “clearly fits into the Russian agenda”. This “act of absolute aggressiveness, stupidity and bestiality which took place yesterday (…) clearly suits the enemies of Poland,” he added.

Poland is one of Ukraine's strongest supporters in its fight against Russian aggression, and the new prime minister has called for more aid to kyiv.

An act that “discredits Poland’s position”

Marek Sawicki, MP from the Third Way bloc, a member of the government coalition, also considered that the incident in Parliament was not “an isolated act”. “It was a mission dictated directly from the Kremlin, (…) which aimed to damage Poland’s image on the international scene,” he said on national radio.

Mr. Braun, an ultranationalist MP known for past anti-Semitic acts and anti-Ukrainian statements, had already been financially sanctioned and expelled from Parliament. “The Confederation Parliamentary Club suspends MP Grzegorz Braun from the club and prohibits him from speaking in the parliamentary rostrum for an indefinite period,” his party wrote on X on Wednesday.

MPs were debating the new government when the incident occurred, delaying the vote of confidence in the cabinet led by Mr Tusk who had earlier announced his support for Ukraine from the podium. “It was a strong message sent to Moscow and literally a few hours later there was an attempt to discredit Poland’s position in the world,” said Pawel Kowal, an MP from Mr. Tusk’s liberal Civic Coalition.