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On Monday evening (November 22), Robert Bąkiewicz, head of the far-right association behind the contentious Independence Day March in Warsaw, announced on Twitter that PayPal had frozen his association's account.

"To all Poles living abroad who in recent days wanted to support our Independence March movement with a donation and had a problem doing so via PayPal: PayPal has blocked the account of the Independence March Association and thus no payments are currently possible. Our funds have also been frozen" - he wrote.

The company’s decision to block the association’s PayPal account makes it significantly more difficult for nationalistic circles abroad to respond to Mr Bąkiewicz’s donation requests. Despite receiving multiple millions in government subsidies, the far-right association’s leader has recently complained on the internet that he is short of money and is thus reaching out to Polish expat communities to mobilize financial resources.

Far-right organization boosted by the government

It is worth recalling that Mr Bąkiewicz’s Independence March Association received PLN 1.3 million from the government-funded Institute of Legacy of Polish National Thought for a project entitled "Independence March - modernity and tradition", and an additional PLN 1.7 for the establishment of a "national guard" tasked with ensuring "security and professionalism during the organization and course of patriotic and religious events".

The organizers of the Independence Day March used government grants to purchase a stage sound system worth nearly PLN 100,000, which they then used in October to drown out opposition leaders speaking at the "anti-Polexit" demonstration on the Warsaw Castle Square. In spite of all the government funding, Mr Bąkiewicz set up an online fundraiser on the twojazbiorka.pl portal calling for further donations. Its declared purpose? Covering the costs of this year’s Independence Day March and "training of security forces". The fundraising goal has been set at PLN 350,000. As of Tuesday, it had raised PLN 91,000.

As "Wyborcza" already reported on Monday (November 22), in a letter addressed to the Polish diaspora, Mr Bąkiewicz explained that organizing the Independence Day March in Warsaw required spending "considerable sums of money". "Traditional fundraising for the organization of our manifestation has so far brought us about half of the needed sum. Therefore, I would like to ask you to consider financially supporting the Independence March Association. Every donation will be of great help, as it will allow us to think calmly about organizing next year’s event. We kindly ask you to share our fundraiser in the Polish media, in parishes and organizations" - he wrote.

"This is what a fight between multinational corporations and Polish patriotism looks like"

On Tuesday morning (November 23), Mr Bąkiewicz shared PayPal's justification for blocking his association’s account. "This is what a fight between multinational corporations and Polish patriotism looks like. All in the name of 'progress' and 'tolerance', of course" – he commented on Twitter.

In the statement published by Mr Bąkiewicz, the company informs him that he can no longer use the PayPal service. "A review of your account transactions revealed that you are in violation of PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy" - the message reads.

"Unauthorized transactions include accepting donations from our supporters" – Mr Bąkiewicz wrote in another Tweet.

Right-wing MP asks public regulator to inspect PayPal

Shortly after the information became public, MP Janusz Kowalski of the right-wing populist United Poland party reacted to Mr Bąkiewicz complaint on Twitter. On Tuesday morning, he announced that he would ask the president of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to initiate an urgent inspection of PayPal regarding the blocking of payments to Mr Bąkiewicz's association.

"If any foreign company wants to operate in Poland it has no right to block the account of another legally operating Polish entity" - MP Kowalski wrote.


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