Written by Staff Writer for CNN
Szilard Nemes, 80, put in a call to his mother in the Ukrainian village of Saasto three weeks ago to tell her about the deadly crossing of the Belarus border into Poland.
Just like other Polish citizens of a certain age, he had diligently registered his travel plans, and would be visiting a cousin with his daughter on September 4. “Unfortunately, it was the wrong day,” he told CNN.
Nemes heard a sound — which he believes was gunfire — coming from the Belarusian side of the border. He ran through the field, just in time to avoid the incoming shrapnel that struck him in the head.
Two days later, a telegram arrived at his apartment informing him that he was one of 77 Czech and Polish citizens who died in the border tragedy.
“In a Polish movie, the message like that would have been enough to provoke fury,” said Kracowska, author of “Militant Mothers” and “Get It Together,” in an interview. “Here it was more like a support group.”
Poland’s right-wing government has been trying to shut down anti-government protests with a mix of police force and dubious law changes. Members of the self-identified pro-European-Union party Law and Justice (PiS) routinely say the protests are led by people intent on ruining the country by sowing political chaos.
“I always believed that our politicians are more responsible and better educated than most Poles,” Nemes said. “I didn’t expect them to let such a situation happen.”
For other former residents of Saasto, former Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s increasingly authoritarian government has done more than reassure their fears. Rather, it’s given them the moral high ground to justify the ill-advised actions they saw as necessary to safeguard Poland from what they believe to be an imminent Russian threat.