Heroes of 1863 January Uprising against Russian Empire honoured

In Warsaw, President Andrzej Duda laid flowers at the graves of the January Uprising insurgents at the Powązki Military Cemetery. Andrzej Lange/PAP

President Andrzej Duda has paid his respects to those who fought and died in the 1863 January Uprising.

A cornerstone event in Polish history, the uprising started on January 22, 158 years ago, and aimed to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. But it was eventually, and brutally, suppressed the following year by imperial Russian forces.

The president laid flowers at the graves of some of those who died in the insurgency at the Powazki Military Cemetery.

In Belarus, Polish and Lithuanian diplomats, along with representatives of the Belarusian intelligentsia, also paid tribute to those who fought.

They laid flowers and lit candles at a monument commemorating the insurgents in the village of Pleban, 50 kilometres north of Minsk, Belarus, on Friday to mark the anniversary of the revolt.

"The uprising was very important for our common struggle for independence against the tsarist occupier," said Marcin Wojciechowski, an official of the Polish Embassy in Minsk.

In Kiev, Ukraine, Poland's Ambassador Bartosz Cichocki and defence attache Maciej Nalecz laid flowers at the Kiev Fortress, where January Uprising insurgents had been imprisoned.

A white-and-red cross, at which the flowers were laid, had been funded by Polish businessmen operating in Ukraine.

"I want this cross to be a reminder of Russian despotism, which has been writing new chapters of its history in front of us, when many Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar freedom defenders are being imprisoned in Russian jails," the ambassador said.