MFA to take "appropriate action" over disruption of Holland film

Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it will take "appropriate action" after a group of masked intruders disrupted the screening of an Agnieszka Holland film on Thursday at the Moscow Memorial Society.

The showing of Mr Jones, a 2019 film by the Polish director about the Soviet genocide against Ukraine, was organised by the Polish Institute in Moscow and the Moscow Memorial Society.

During the screening, a group of masked young men stormed the premises and caused a disturbance for 10-15 minutes, after which the police arrived and the screening was continued.

The Polish Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement on its website: "Perpetrated during the screening of a film about genocide, the attack on the seat of an organisation which has greatly contributed to Polish-Russian relations and historical memory is yet another very sad example of the way institutions that promote historical memory are treated.

"The MFA will take appropriate action," the statement continued.

The Polish Institute in Moscow described the incident as "an attack on historical truth and the right to promote knowledge of that truth."

The Institute also expressed, in a statement on its website, solidarity with the Moscow Memorial Society, whose headquarters, it wrote, had been the site of "criminal aggression," adding that the film had been shown with the permission of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Piotr Skwieciński, the head of the Polish Institute in Moscow, told PAP that the perpetrators wanted lies about the genocide, known as the Great Famine, engineered by the Stalinist authorities during collectivisation, to be perpetuated.

He said he did not know the cause of the incident but that, "the Holland film relates how Stalin managed to hide from the world, through lies and manipulation, what was happening in the Soviet countryside during collectivisation, the Great Famine."

"Those who committed it wanted the lies they managed to impose on the world, the silence about a crime against their own nation, to endure," he continued. "I'm glad they didn't manage to stop the screening. When the rabble left the Memorial (Society building), the showing was renewed and lasted till the end."

He went on to say the institute would continue its work. "We will not give in to pressure," he said. "We act in line with Russian law and our mission."