Russia summons Polish ambassador to protest removal of Soviet statue

 Russia summoned Poland`s ambassador on Thursday to protest at the removal of a Soviet-era statue in a Polish town on the 76th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, highlighting increased tensions between the neighbours.

Moscow: Russia summoned Poland`s ambassador on Thursday to protest at the removal of a Soviet-era statue in a Polish town on the 76th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, highlighting increased tensions between the neighbours.

Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz, Warsaw`s envoy in Moscow, was called to the Russian Foreign Ministry to explain the dismantling on Thursday of a statue of Soviet General Ivan Chernyakhovsky in the Polish town of Pieniezno.

Chernyakhovsky was the youngest ever general in the Red Army and a decorated commander in its massive westward advance on Nazi Germany that helped end World War Two. He was killed in action at age 38 in February 1945.

Pelczynska-Nalecz said after the meeting that the Russian side objected to the statue`s removal and asked for the process to stop. "I listened to it, I presented the Polish position on the issue that the whole process is 100 percent according to Polish law," Pelczynska-Nalecz told journalists.

Poland and Russia share a complicated history spanning war and peace. Stalin invaded eastern Poland in September 1939 soon after Nazi German forces invaded from the west. The Red Army later freed Poland from Nazi occupation, but at the same time persecuted soldiers of the Polish underground army. After the war, Poland spent four decades under Soviet domination.

Following communism`s collapse, Poland embraced democracy and joined the European Union, and has recently been among the fiercest critics of Russia`s annexation of Ukraine`s Crimea.

Moscow`s embassy in Warsaw issued a statement saying it had warned Poland many times that taking down Soviet-era monuments violated a bilateral agreement on protecting such sites and threatened the "most delicate feelings" of the Russian people.

"(The actions) cannot be left without the most serious consequences for Russian-Polish relations," it said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized Warsaw during a news conference. "Remembering history is what differentiates humans from animals," she said.

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