Today's announcement that the Polish presidential couple killed in the tragic aircraft accident over Smolensk last Saturday would be buried on Sunday at 2PM in Krakow‘s Wawel Castle raised a lot of controversy.
Lech Kaczyński's family was given a choice of three burial locations: the Wawel Castle in Krakow, as well as St. John's Cathedral and the Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw. Stanisław Dziwisz, the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, announced [PL] today that they had decided in favor of Wawel, and this announcement later sparked a series of public protests.
Some 400 protesters gathered [PL] in front of the Metropolitan Curia of Krakow tonight to voice their concerns: the authorities’ failure to consult with the nation; the fact that Wawel is a resting place of kings, military leaders, representatives of the Polish literature and other historical personalities considered heroes of the nation; the fact that none of the spouses of the heroes resting there had been buried along with them. The protest was organized through several Facebook groups, such as this one (currently 2,143 fans), this (23,369 fans) and this (11,782 members). Nearly 1,400 people have signed this online petition [PL] related to the protest as well. The scale of the protest on Facebook did not go unnoticed in the Polish mainstream media [PL].
To understand the sentiments of the protesters, let's look at some of their posts on Facebook. Maciej Sadkowski expresses the dominant opinion of one of the groups opposing the decision [PL]:
A definite NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Gabi Wielesik points out [PL]:
Not only that suddenly the person everyone laughed at suddenly becomes a national hero, now this…paranoia…maybe we should bury [Gosiewski], [Szmajdziński] and others in Wawel, too? they died [in the plane crash] as well…
Paula Rettinger believes [PL] that the president's place is in Warsaw:
I protest against the burial of [Lech Kaczyński] in Wawel. Brother of my grandfather died in Katyń. As well as my mother's uncle. The topic is close to my heart. The only reason to call Kaczyński a hero is his accidental death. It's an irresponsible, foolish decision taken under the pressure of a constant propaganda flow of condolences to the deceased couple. The Warsaw Cathedral is a necropolis for presidents, and it is where the president should rest.
Izabela Wójcik refers [PL] to the image of Poland abroad:
I also oppose it, as all my friends I've talked to. But it is not only our internal matter because now the entire world will see how after a short period of unity the Polish nation divides and argues again. Try to look at this image: the cortege with guests from all around the world and a demonstration in the back of it. How will it look like to the world? Why multiply conflicts with decisions of this type? Eh…
Piotr Tomula points out [PL] the past sentiments of the Kaczyński family towards Krakow:
He did not receive the honorable citizenship of Krakow, so now his brother pushes him in through the back door for even more, this is exactly how the duckies [a slang word for Kaczyński brothers, derivative of the word ‘kaczka’ – ‘a duck’], NO HONOR, only VANITY…
Kuba Bielecki speaks [PL] with irony:
Agata Kol is one of the few voices [PL] supporting the decision, though:
Gazeta.pl posts a survey [PL] on the topic, asking the public for their opinions. Here are the current results (as of 11PM):
What do you think of the plans to bury Kaczyński in Wawel?
63% Should be buried in Warsaw
26% Brilliant, is is exactly his place
11% It does not matter, his family should decide
Piotr Kowalczyk's tweet [PL] sums up the general direction of the discussions:
Wawel will not unite the Poles, but divide them.