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2 Mar, 2024 10:40

Polish farmers begin protest at border with Lithuania

The demonstrators claim Ukrainian grain is being imported into Poland through the Baltic state
Polish farmers begin protest at border with Lithuania

Polish farmers have launched a week-long protest along the border with Lithuania against the importation of Ukrainian grain, the authorities in Vilnius have said. The agricultural workers have been blocking checkpoints on the Ukrainian frontier for months in an attempt to prevent deliveries of cheap produce from reaching their markets.

The protest at the Budzisko-Kalvarija checkpoint on the Polish-Lithuanian border began on Friday, the administration of Kalvarija municipality announced in a post on Facebook.

Polish agricultural workers have been protesting against imports of Ukrainian grain since the fall. They claim that agricultural producers from the neighboring country have an unfair advantage, given that they do not have to abide by EU regulations or pay the bloc’s taxes.

The farmers have been blocking trucks from Ukraine from entering Poland altogether, but they’re using “a new form of protest” on the Lithuanian border, Kalvarija’s authorities said.

”The goal of the move isn’t to paralyze an important transport artery or intentionally harm businesses,” but to draw attention to the issue of the transit of grain from Ukraine and other non-EU countries through Lithuania, they explained.

The organizer of the protest, Karol Pieczynski, assured LTR, a broadcaster, that there will be “no total blockade” of the border with Lithuania. What the farmers intend to do is inspect trucks entering Poland together with the country’s border guards to check if they’re carrying grain, he said.

Pieczynski claimed that not only Ukrainian, but also Russian and Belarussian grain has been entering Poland through Lithuanian territory.

The protest organizer spoke of the so-called “grain carousel,” which he alleged is used by the suppliers to bypass the bans on Ukrainian grain imposed by Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. Trucks with grain from Ukraine transit through the Polish territory to Lithuania, which is allowed under the terms of the embargo. They then return to Poland from the Baltic nation, but obtain new papers at the border, according to which the grain they carry becomes EU cargo that isn’t subject to restrictions anymore, Pieczynski stressed.

Polish Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Michal Kolodziejczak told RMF FM radio earlier that the amount of Ukrainian grain delivered to the country through Lithuania has been insignificant. Out of 1,500 trucks that had been checked recently, only one contained Ukrainian cargo, Kolodziejczak said, adding that such a transpiration route is simply unprofitable.