Poland's Interior Minister yesterday accused the opposition of attempting to stage a coup as MPs occupied Parliament's plenary hall for a second day in the country's biggest political standoff in years.
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and the head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, had to be evacuated from the building in the early hours local time after police used force to break up an earlier protest.
Fresh protests kicked off in Warsaw, with several thousand demonstrators waving Polish flags, blasting air horns and chanting "Stop the devastation of Poland".
On Saturday, opposition MPs blocked access to the podium in protest over government plans to limit media access to the Parliament building described as an assault on press freedom in Poland.
In response, the Speaker reconvened Parliament in another hall, where PiS MPs voted through the 2017 state budget with a show of hands.
It was the first time since Poland's transition from communism in 1989 that a sitting of the lower chamber of Parliament and a budget vote were held outside of the main chamber.
"In my opinion, yesterday's events were an illegal attempt to seize power," Mariusz Blaszczak, Poland's Interior Minister, said of opposition MPs.
Opposition leaders claimed having a parliamentary vote outside the chamber was both illegal and a violation of the Polish constitution. Warsaw police confirmed physical force was used to remove protesters.
At the heart of the issue was free access to information. In the 27 years of Poland's democracy, journalists have been a constant presence in the parliament's halls. Banned from the main assembly room, they can grab politicians for interviews in the halls.
The ruling party, which is under European Union scrutiny for policies deemed anti-democratic by opponents, plans new rules starting January 1 that would drastically limit reporters' access in Parliament.
Kaczynski denounced the obstruction of Parliament as "hooliganism" and threatened protesters with consequences. "We will not allow ourselves to be terrorised," he said.