Newly elected Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski sought Thursday to defuse a row over a cross erected outside the presidential palace in memory of his predecessor, Lech Kaczynski, dpa reported
Supporters of Kaczynski have opposed government plans to remove the tribute placed at the palace soon after the April 10 plane crash in Russia in which the president and 95 others were killed.
On Thursday, a memorial plaque to the crash victims was unveiled in a side wing of the palace, with the president's office calling it a "symbol of remembrance and mourning."
Kaczynski supporters criticized the move, saying they were not consulted, and vowed to maintain their vigil outside the presidential palace until a permanent memorial is erected in place of the cross.
The president's office did not announce the unveiling of the plaque until half-an-hour beforehand, apparently out of fear there would be protests.
The Catholic fundamentalists who have been guarding the wooden cross day and night clashed with police last week, when authorities tried to move it to a nearby church.
There have been demonstrations both for and against the cross in recent days.
Kaczynski supporters say the late president never got the respect he deserved and was still being "spat on" by his political opponents in his death.
Younger people, meanwhile, have argued for the separation of church and state, saying the cross has no place in front of a government building.
The cross was erected by scouts shortly after the plane crash. Supporters of conservative opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deceased president's twin brother, also used the site for rallies against his liberal rival Komorowski during the election campaign