Poles protest gov't they call anti-democratic, defend Walesa

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Thousands of Poles chanting "we will defend democracy!" and "Lech Walesa!" are rallying in Warsaw to protest moves by Poland's three-month old conservative government which they say undermine freedoms and constitutional norms.

The march Saturday is a test for the organizer, the Committee for the Defense of Democracy, which was formed in November in reaction to moves by the ruling Law and Justice party that have essentially paralyzed the Constitutional Tribunal.

Many Poles carried posters showing support for Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and ex-president who has been recently faced accusations of being a communist-era secret police informer. His supporters accuse the ruling party of trying to destroy his reputation for political gain, as well as personal vengeance.

Walesa is a longtime foe of Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.