Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Polish PM implicates Walesa in plot

Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Tuesday former President Lech Walesa could have inspired rogue secret service agents to arrange a car crash in a bid to silence him in the 1990s.

The claims of a plot have surfaced at a time of political instability in Poland where conservative Kaczynski is fighting to keep his grip on power after a key ally quit his coalition.

Walesa, an international symbol of the fight to overthrow communism in the 1980s, angrily denied the accusations and said he was considering suing Kaczynski.

"He cannot do much else than talk nonsense," Walesa told Reuters by telephone. "I will sue him if he is indeed slandering me in public."

Walesa is a harsh critic of Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech, Poland's current president, calling them unfit to govern.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski was Walesa's top aide when the former Solidarity union leader became president in 1990. But the two fell out when Walesa refused to abandon painful free-market reforms during his five-year term and Kaczynski went on to form a party bent on removing his former mentor from power.

Kaczynski alleges some secret agents went as far as to cause car accidents in an attempt to remove him from public life during and shortly after Walesa's term as Poland's president.

"I was in an Opel Vectra car with my driver (when) we had a serious crash," Kaczynski told the Dziennik newspaper in a lengthy interview, when asked for examples of unlawful secret service activities against him.

"The police established that the air valve in one of the tyres was loosened," he was quoted as saying.

Asked who was behind such acts, Kaczynski said Walesa, who had by then been out of office for about a year, "politically inspired" them.

"I absolutely doubt these agents did it on their own," he told Dziennik. "I am deducing that Lech Walesa and his entourage were the spirit behind it."


Documents released this week by a court showed Poland's intelligence service monitored and infiltrated radical parties on both sides of the political spectrum after the collapse of communism in 1989, fearing they could destabilise the young democracy.

Walesa, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has also said the secret service monitored radical parties in early 1990s, but has added he was not aware of any illegal acts.

Since coming to power in last year's elections, the Kaczynski brothers have seen their popularity plunge due to constant political rows with the opposition, the independent central bank, the media and the country's top judges.

Kaczynski's spokesman was not available to comment but Dziennik said his remarks in the interview had been cleared for publication by his office.

In another interview, first published in 1999 by leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Kaczynski mentioned another car accident which he believed was an attempt on his life during Walesa's term as president.

"In 1993, as part of intimidating me during the anti-Walesa campaign, my tyres were punctured with a special tool so that they would burst at high speed," he was quoted as saying by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. The paper re-ran the interview on Tuesday.