Polish police break up chained anti-Kaczynski protesters

Warsaw (AFP) - Police in Warsaw on Saturday dragged away hundreds of protesters hoping to block a monthly rally by the head of Poland's rightwing ruling party to commemorate the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed his brother.

Several civic groups had called the demonstration, with participants chaining themselves together in a bid to halt the march organised by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Police broke the chains with scissors before forcibly removing the protesters.

The protest came after a law passed by the PiS-dominated parliament in March making it more difficult to carry out counter-protests, with demonstrators yelling "The PiS violates the constitution" and "We have the right to protest".

The government claims the law is a necessary security measure, but opposition groups as well as the EU human rights commissioner have called it anti-democratic.

In a speech, Kaczynski once again denounced what he called the "barbarity" of Russia and the previous liberal Polish government, saying the recently exhumed remains of several victims of the plane crash were mixed together when returned by Russia.

The crash in Smolensk claimed the life of Kaczynski's twin brother Lech, president of Poland at the time, and 95 others including senior Polish statesmen.

The PiS has long insisted the crash was no accident, though Polish and Russian investigators found that pilot error, bad weather and poor air-traffic control were to blame.

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