Poland's President Andrzej Duda and his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nausėda paid tribute to the January Uprising fighters at the Warsaw Citadel, a 19th-century fortress in the Polish capital where many Poles were imprisoned and executed after the failed insurrection, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the Ukrainian ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych, also attended the ceremony to mark the 160th anniversary of the 19th-century revolt against Russian rule, according to officials.
Zvarych read out a special message from Volodymyr Zelensky in which the Ukrainian president said that "our nations fought shoulder to shoulder against Russian imperialism 160 years ago."
'A sense of perseverance and resilience'
The Polish president told the gathering that the uprising 160 years ago was "nurtured by great ideas," including a fight "for our freedom and yours."
These "great ideas inspired a sense of perseverance and resilience among the public and made people believe that the nation would be reborn," he said.
Duda added that the January Uprising prevented czarist Russia from "subjugating the Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples in those days."
'For our freedom and yours'
Lithuania's Nausėda said he was "proud that 160 years after the great January Uprising, Lithuania and Poland remember and respect their heroes."
He added: "They inspire us to continue walking firmly on the path of freedom and justice. For our freedom and yours!"
Polish presidential aide Wojciech Kolarski has told reporters that "the January Uprising was an important event in the shared history" of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
"It was an important event in the history of Central Europe," Kolarski said.
Nausėda's visit began on Monday noon with a meeting between the two presidents at Warsaw's Belweder Palace, where they discussed bilateral relations and Russia's war against Ukraine, according to officials.
The joint commemoration was intended to "send a message about the need for solidarity at a time when Ukraine is fighting against Russian aggression," reporters were told.
As part of the commemorations, Duda and Nausėda attended the opening of an exhibition about the 1863 uprising at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
Poland's President Andrzej Duda (second from right) and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda (right) attend the opening of an exhibition about the 1863 January Uprising in Warsaw on Monday, together with Lithuania's President Gitanas Nausėda (second from left) and First Lady Diana Nausėda (left). Photo: PAP/Albert Zawada
The exhibition has been put together by Polish and Lithuanian experts and historians, officials said.
'Our nation spoke with a powerful voice of pride and protest'
Duda wrote in a message last week that the revolt 160 years ago was the largest and longest-lasting Polish national uprising in the 19th century.
"With arms in hand, Poles stood up against the czarist empire, which did not recognize our rights to self-determination and was intent on destroying all things Polish in a process of fierce Russification," the Polish president said in his message.
"Our nation spoke with a powerful voice of pride and protest," he added.
The 1863 revolt, though unsuccessful, paved the way for the country’s hard-won sovereignty in 1918, officials have said.
The January Uprising broke out on January 22, 1863 when a provisional national government issued a manifesto in which it appealed to all Poles to take up arms against czarist Russia.
The insurgency became the largest and longest of Poland's armed struggles for independence during the 19th century. It comprised more than 1,000 battles and skirmishes fought by some 200,000 insurgents.
Over 30,000 insurgents were killed during the bloody one-and-a-half-year-long struggle and some 40,000 were deported to Russia’s remote Siberia region, according to military historians.
Poland ultimately regained independence on November 11, 1918, the day World War I ended, after 123 years of being partitioned by Russia, Austria and Prussia.
Source: IAR, PAP, prezydent.pl
Click on the audio player above for a report by Radio Poland's Agnieszka Bielawska.