Dousing the Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreev with fake blood not only led to a diplomatic scandal, but also caused an avalanche of accusations. The nationalists and the PiS party MP Radosław Fogiel alleged that the Open Dialogue Foundation was behind the stunt, while ODF’s Chair of the Board replied that this claim is “ridiculous and false”.
The Russian ambassador was doused with fake blood on 9 May in front of the Mausoleum of Soviet Soldiers at the Żwirki i Wigury street. On the occasion of Russian Victory Day, Sergey Andreev planned to lay flowers at the monument to the fallen soldiers of the Red Army, and the protesters wanted to prevent it from happening. On the same day, Ukrainian journalist and activist Iryna Zemliana confessed to being responsible for the action.
The Russian ambassador covered in fake blood. The right-wing accuses the Open Dialogue Foundation
The case became a diplomatic scandal because it was Poland’s responsibility to ensure the security of a representative of a foreign country. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau called it “an incident that should not have happened”, and Ambassador Andreev demanded that he should be allowed to lay flowers with the assistance of the police.
The media blamed primarily the government and the police, which were far too few at the Soviet soldiers’ cemetery. However, on the evening of 9 May, PiS deputy Radosław Fogiel stated that Zemliana was an activist of the Open Dialogue Foundation, thus blaming the organisation for the incident.
His statement was published by the Polish Press Agency, and the matter was quickly picked up by the right-wing media and activists who have long been in conflict with the Open Dialogue Foundation. Robert Bąkiewicz from the National Movement called it “a very dangerous provocation”, for which he accused the milieu of Bartosz Kramek, one of the leaders of the Open Dialogue Foundation.
The Russian ambassador covered in fake blood. Bartosz Kramek: the Ukrainians carried out this action, and they have the right to such emotions
“These are ridiculous accusations, and we have nothing to do with dousing the Russian ambassador with fake blood. It was a demonstration arranged by Ukrainian citizens,” Bartosz Kramek said at a press briefing organised on 10 May in front of the Russian embassy, arguing that “The Ukrainians have the right to such emotions and their behaviour is absolutely understandable. We should only blame the police and the government because they are the ones who presented a gift to the Russian propaganda.”
According to Kramek, this is yet another situation when the Open Dialogue becomes a “scapegoat” for right-wing circles. “We demand the withdrawal of the text from the Polish Press Agency website, but we know that it works in favour of the government and the police, who have discredited themselves by allowing the ambassador to be attacked,” said Kramek.
He added that the ruling camp has been persecuting his organisation, among others, for helping refugees at the Polish-Belarusian border. He called the accusations by Robert Bąkiewicz “a typical behaviour of a violent person who puts himself in the role of a victim” and compared them to the methods of action of Andreev or Putin himself.
An incident at the Soviet military memorial cemetery. “This could have been a set-up”
As he pointed out, Iryna Zemliana was not an activist of the Open Dialogue Foundation, although she cooperated with the organisation, among others, in blocking the movement of trucks that were crossing the Belarusian border and in monitoring the elections in Kazakhstan. “We have a few photos together and we like each other, but that’s all”, emphasised Bartosz Kramek.
“The pro-government media have no evidence, yet they have already written their own narrative. They may as well say that if I am standing at the Russian embassy, it means that I am a collaborator of Russia,” added Kajetan Wróblewski, an activist from ODF. “It was either a police failure or a simple set-up. Perhaps the government wanted a scandal.”
He also pointed out how effectively the police were able to protect Jarosław Kaczyński from protests during the Smolensk monthly memorial ceremony.