As part of an investigation by the Guildhall news agency, it was established that Polish carriers who have been blocking a number of checkpoints on the Polish-Ukrainian border demanding “fair competition” have been in contact with individuals with ties to Russia. Russian meddling has also been established in probing similar developments in Slovakia.
The official organizer of the protest on the border between Poland and Ukraine is Rafał Mekler, a Polish national who owns a Rafał Mekler Transport freight carrier business. Makler is also a member of a Lublin Voivodship’s cell of the pro-Russian party “Confederation of Freedom and Independence”, which has close ties with Russia. In particular, party leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke, earlier made calls for recognition of the Crimea occupation by Russia and even visited the illegally annexed peninsula in 2015, where he met with the head of the Russian occupation administration of Crimea, Sergei Aksenov.
The Confederation of Freedom and Independence is also affiliated with another right-wing organization, All-Polish Youth that has long-standing ties to the Russian Imperial Movement, which, among other things, recruited fighters for the Russian proxy “DPR” and “LPR” groups. Ziemovit Przebitkowski, the top candidate on the party list of Confederation of Freedom and Independence during the 2023 Polish Sejm election campaign, is the former leader of the All-Polish Youth movement.
Confederation of Freedom and Independence and All-Polish Youth are also known to hold joint events.
The current protest stunt on the Polish-Ukrainian border is not the first episode where Polish carriers are engaged in campaigns that bear certain signs of Russia’s “active measures”, or interference. Since the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Rafał Mekler Transport and a number of other Polish companies involved in the ongoing protests, including Kam-Trans, Jata-Trans, BOR-TOM, GLT POLSKA, KMS LOGISTYKA, and PEO-TRANS, have repeatedly held rallies demanding that the EU’s Russia sanctions be lifted.
The political influence on the said developments in Poland deserves special attention. On November 16, at the Polish checkpoint Korchowa, a meeting was held between the organizers of the rally and co-founder of the Confederation of Freedom and Independence, as well as the leader of the Confederation of the Polish Crown, Grzegorz Braun.
Since a big war started in Ukraine, Grzegorz Brown has been the only member of the Polish Sejm who voted against the resolution condemning Russia, adopted after the Bucha atrocities were exposed. He systematically stands against displaced Ukrainians whom Poland has sheltered and authored the slogan “Stop the Ukrainization of Poland.”
In 2018, Braun met Moscow with Rossiya Segodnya journalist Leonid Sviridov, who had been deported from Poland for spying for Russia.
Like the Confederation of Freedom and Independence, Grzegorz Brown takes part in events co-organized with the All-Polish Youth. The organization also has ties to the paramilitary right-wing radical group Zadrużny Krąg – Dywizja Słowiańska), which cooperates with the Rusov neo-Nazi group, whose members currently fight in the ranks of the Russian invasion army.
Another participant in the action on the Polish-Ukrainian border, is Viktor Stepanovich Gordeyuk, a Belarus national who owns the PEO-Trans carrier. As is obvious from his footprint on social media, Gordeyuk is now studying at one of Belarus’s higher military educational facilities. His brother, Andrei Stepanovich Gordeyuk, is serving with the 38th Separate Air Assault Brigade in the Belarusian army.
The organizers of the protest rally in Slovakia represent the Union of Road Carriers of Slovakia (UNAS). The action was supported by the anti-European right-wing radical party Our Slovakia, which advocates “restoring friendly ties” with Russia. Their leader, Slovak politician Marian Kotleba, in 2014 wrote a letter to the now-disgraced ex-President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, where he compared the Revolution of Dignity with terrorism.
It should be recalled that freight carriers in Poland continue to block a number of border checkpoints, demanding that the European Commission reinstate commercial permits for Ukrainian truck drivers, despite the fact that the Commission has already stated that the implementation of such requirements is not legally possible.