Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Sordid Past of Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski

When Poland's president and prime minister, the Kaczynski twins, visited Washington, D.C., in September 2006, they both voiced their support for former Polish chief of state, the post-Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski, who aspired to be the new secretary general, or gensek, of the United Nations. The White House responded with an embarrassing silence. Although George W. Bush had earlier supported Kwasniewski, the United States resolved to back the Korean foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon.

Many assumed that Bush discarded Kwasniewski because the Pole could no longer deliver for the United States, as he had by committing Polish troops to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. That was to be his stepping stone to the top post at the U.N. Now, however, Kwasniewski is old news. South Korea is more important, particularly in light of its northern neighbor's nuclear threats. Realpolitik thus derailed the chances of the Polish candidate.

At least that is the official story. Perhaps, however, there was another factor. Perhaps the American President knew more than he wanted to let on. Perhaps George W. Bush wanted to avoid a serious embarrassment.

After all, there have long been rumors about Kwasniewski's unsavory past. It may very well be then that the United States wanted to prevent a major scandal. Let's call it containment of the Kurt Waldheim syndrome. The Austrian served as general secretary of the United Nations between 1972 and 1981. In his case, wanton disregard for history resulted in explosive revelations about the U.N. gensek's Nazi activities before and during the Second World War. More seriously, this led to the allegations that the Soviets, privy to Waldheim's past, had been blackmailing him to assure the U.N.'s anti-U.S. and anti-Israel stance.

Kwasniewski's ugly secrets may have likewise rendered the politician open to the post-Soviet Russian blackmail and, hence, potentially, anti-American attitudes. After all, at least until 1989, the politician from Warsaw served Moscow as a secret agent.

The Vetting
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More on History
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Zyta or "Beata": The Convoluted Case of Poland's Deputy Prime Minister
More by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
When, in 1995, Kwasniewski became Poland's post-Communist president, he had to fill out an affidavit stating that he had not served or been an agent of the secret police. He perjured himself.

According to the right-wing weekly Voice (Glos), the internal security service (Urzad Ochrony Panstwa (UOP) -- Office for the Defense of the State) under Poland's "Solidarity" government turned Kwasniewski's file over to the courts in August 2000. This was to be the post-Communist sitting president's lustration (vetting). In September 2000, the court determined that the material available indeed concerned Kwasniewski. The court further determined that Kwasniewski was registered as an agent of the secret police, the Security Service (SB, Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa). However, no records were found regarding his specific activities as an agent. All pertinent documents appeared to have been destroyed. Therefore the court decided that it could be claimed that Kwasniewski did not perjure himself in his affidavit. This was an innocent verdict by default. Thus, the post-Communist judges once again cleared one of their own, according to the Christian-nationalist Our Daily (Nasz Dziennik).

Documents Surface

Soon after the "trial", however, more documents regarding Kwasniewski were found. The UOP released a Communist secret police report from the Seoul Olympics (1988). According to the report, there were secret agents in "the strict leadership" of the Polish Olympic team. In fact, there were 5 agents listed out of 7 persons who constituted "the strict leadership." The head of the leadership was the then-Communist minister of sport, Aleksander Kwasniewski.

In fact, many more documents have been located to implicate the politician. To appreciate the Benedictine effort of the researchers and archivists, a few words on methodology are warranted. Much of what follows is available in a very recently published monograph, edited by Dr. Filip Musial of the Institute of National Remembrance in Cracow, "Regarding the Secret Police Files: Methodological and Research Problems" (Wokól teczek bezpieki: Zagadnienia metodologiczno-zródloznawcze, Kraków: Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, Komisja Scigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2006).

The Security Service of Poland periodically purged its archives of certain categories of documents. But the greatest massacre of the records took place between January and April of 1990, well after the so-called "free" elections of June 1989 and the alleged "fall of communism." An estimated 70 percent of all Communist secret police reports were destroyed under the glazed eyes of the liberal Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a left-wing Solidarity appointee.

However, the remaining documents, which are stored by the Institute of National Remembrance, can sometimes suffice to establish some basic facts, and sometimes even the gory details, of the activities of the net of agents, the agentura. This is possible because of the Byzantine system of record keeping by the SB.

The only person who knew a Communist agent was his direct handler, his immediate superior, and the internal affairs vetting inspector, who checked periodically whether agent registration was real and whether all procedures were followed. Even the SB record keepers were not privy to information about an agent's identity (see below). After 1989 only a few Communist secret policemen decided to come clean and reveal their agent net. Nonetheless, few agents have been identified this way. Most were not. But they can't sleep in peace anymore.

Before 1989, each time a secret police officer received or wrote a report, he was obligated to identify each person and object (building or institution) mentioned in the report and insert a copy of the report into the separate files of each person or object referenced. This way not only the original of the report was kept but also its multiple copies.

Further, sometimes secret police reports could be misfiled with regular court records. This was the case with the notorious Major Adam Humer, a chief Stalinist torturer, who destroyed all his records, save for a misplaced copy of his own report describing how he murdered an underground journalist. This bureaucratic mistake allowed for the secret policeman to be tried and sentenced to jail after 1989.

There are also secret police records in the regular criminal police archive. For example, abstractly speaking, if the vice squad of Warsaw was unable to catch a serial rapist, the criminal police would ask the secret police for assistance. The former usually would supply the latter with agent reports from the areas where the rapist was active. And so a secret police agent would share his insights about his neighborhood. At all times the agent's identity would remain anonymous to the criminal police. However, it was often possible to identify the agent because the report would contain his codename, his registration number, and even, albeit much less frequently, his general address (no apartment number).

Additionally, agent identity can be established by juxtaposing the contents of secret police card catalogues. There are two main types: a name catalogue and a call number catalogue. Secret police archivists who were assigned to service the former were not allowed access to the latter. However, they destroyed both catalogues partly. Some cards were individually removed. Most cards were dumped and mixed up. This meant that the individual records of the agentura and its handlers were freely combined with these of their victims. The secret police archivists also destroyed the key to the catalogue system and, essentially, refused to share the knowledge about it with their successors. However, the archivists of the Institute of National Remembrance have been able to restore the catalogues from scratch. Now, one can more easily try to match the names with the registration numbers.

It is now also less complicated to understand the numbers and symbols on unrelated documents without the agent registration records. Take the files regarding weapon permits.

Poland had a total ban on weapons under communism. More precisely, the military, secret police, and top party people were permitted weapons. Regular Poles were not. However, each weapons permit had to be issued individually based upon the decision of a local secret police commander. The permit sheet included the following rubrics: the name, date of birth, place of birth, address, weapon type, remarks, and legal basis (podstawa prawna) of the decision. Usually, the authority granting the permit would invoke an innocuous sounding paragraph of the Communist law. Occasionally, however, under the rubric "legal basis" there would be written, say, 72204, an agent registration number. It would then be possible to match the name in the weapons permit against the name catalogue in the agent registration section, and the registration number against the number catalogue or any of the many extant copies of agent reports containing the registration number and the codename, and the identity of the agent would quickly become clear.

Next, individual files have been recovered by the IPN and the new Polish secret services both by recovery from the former Communist secret policemen and by declassifying records kept elsewhere by related institutions, most notably military intelligence.

Also, there is a multi-level password-protected master computer list of the agentura. The endeavor to decipher it is well advanced.

Last but not least, a master copy of all registered agents is in Moscow. The official denials by the Kremlin notwithstanding, this can be argued by analogy with other Soviet Block services, the East German Stasi in particular. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a Stasi officer liaison delivered the master copy of the register to the Soviets but made another copy and sold it to the United States. It took a decade of begging for the German government to receive some records from the copy, which is deposited with the CIA.

Now that it has finally vetted its intelligence services, Warsaw should urgently approach Washington to ask for the secret police records from Poland. When it does, it can officially confirm what the researchers at the Institute of National Remembrance have found in disparate files.

Agent "Alek"

According to his file, Aleksander Zdzislaw Kwasniewski, codenamed "Alek," was first registered by the SB on June 23, 1982. This was a preliminary registration under the "secured" (zaba) category. That meant that the target was approached and investigated to determine whether he could be recruited. On June 29, 1983, Kwasniewski's registration was changed to secret collaborator/agent (TW, tajny wspólpracownik). His secret police registration number was 72204. His secret police card catalogue sequential registration number was 4645. Kwasniewski's case officer was Captain Wytrwal. The agent was originally registered by Section XIV (Wydzial XIV) of the II Department (counterintelligence) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MSW) in Warsaw. On December 3, 1983, the agent was shifted to Section VII of the III Department, which infiltrated and controlled the media. The agent was de-registered on September 9, 1989. This marks the official date of the termination of his relationship with the secret police of Communist Poland.

However, in the mid-1990s allegations surfaced that Kwasniewski was a Russian agent codenamed "Executioner" (Kat). It was further alleged that Executioner met with his handler, ex-KGB officer Vladimir Alganov, outside of Gdansk in August 1993. When the allegations became public, the post-Communist courts predictably cleared Kwasniewski of meeting with Alganov. The court however focused on this single occasion in August 1993. The crucial "evidence" of Kwasniewski's innocence was supplied in the form of credit card receipts and bank operation records which purported to show that Kwasniewski was in Ireland at the time of the alleged meeting. The bank records were made available by BIG (now Millenium) Bank, which is run by a post-communist kleptocrat, Boguslaw Kot.

In other words, this and other cases of alleged espionage remain open before the court of public opinion. It will remain so for a while. The attempts to allow the public access to the Kwasniewski secret police file have so far been defeated.
This article continues...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Poland faces worker shortage as too many head west

Judy Dempsey in the International Herald Tribune, writes that a Polish nurse is running for Parliament in Iceland. A British labour union is establishing a special section for Polish immigrants. The Catholic Church in Ireland is going through a revival as Poles flock to Sunday services.
New Polish-language newspapers are flourishing in Britain and Belgium, France and Sweden, Ireland and Germany, catering to Polish craftsmen, engineers, teachers, nurses, plumbers, architects, maids and drivers. These newspapers are the lifeblood for newcomers seeking to find cheap housing, ferret out Polish food shops, and meet teachers to learn their new language.

This is the "second" Poland, a diaspora of 800,000 Poles estimated by officials here to have left the country since it joined the European Union in May 2004. The exodus is believed to be one of the single biggest migrations by Europeans since the 1950s, when a wave of Irish crossed the Atlantic to escape poverty.

Dempsey says that this incredible movement of people has created a labour shortage so severe that Warsaw may not be able to spend the money that is due to begin arriving from the European Union for projects like improving roads and the water supply. The reason? A lack of manpower.

"The money is there but so is the problem," said Bartlomiej Sosna, a construction analyst at the consultant group PMR in Krakow. "Now that we are in the EU, we have a fantastic opportunity to improve our infrastructure because we are due to receive billions of euros starting in 2007. But how?"

The IHT cites the Polish Transport Ministry, which has already allocated €30 billion, or $38 billion, to be spent from 2007 to 2013 on a road and motorway construction program, some of it financed by EU funds, which will start flowing in January.

"We do not have enough workers to build the roads," Sosna said. "If we don't take up the EU funds over a certain period of time, we will have to return them to Brussels. Do you know what this means? There will be a delay in the modernization of our country. And that would have negative repercussions for investment."

Given the unemployment rate in Poland of 15.2 percent, one of the highest in the EU, Dempsey says that it is puzzling why there is a labour shortage in the first place. But as hard as employers advertise, they cannot find enough workers in the construction, engineering and medical fields.

"In some cases, the construction industry cannot offer tenders because they have not yet found enough workers," said Marcin Kulinicz, an immigration expert at the Labour Ministry. "But consider these statistics: Last summer, 61,700 bricklayers were registered as unemployed," he said, out of 100,000 construction workers on the jobless list. "So on the one hand, the industry says it does not have workers. On the other hand, 100,000 say they have qualifications as construction workers."

While construction workers have quit Poland to work abroad, lured by higher wages - yet they register as unemployed back home in order to remain in the state health insurance system and receive other benefits.

President Lech Kaczynski has criticised this practice and the costs to Warsaw, during his recent state visit Britain. He lambasted Poles for drawing unemployment benefits back home while enjoying good wages outside their country.

To be sure, there is genuine unemployment in Poland, especially in eastern areas suffering from a depressed economy. But in much of the country, the economy is booming.

With the economy expected to grow by 5 percent this year, according to the Economics Ministry, and the baby- boom generation of the early 1980s now in the labour market, there should be ample work, and workers to do the jobs.

Krystyna Iglicka, a migration expert and sociologist at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw, says Poland's education system failed during the 1990s to train enough skilled workers, including engineers and craftsmen.

"The trendy professions were marketing and services, not focusing on vocational or technical skills," Iglicka said. "Vocational and technical schools were closed, teachers were made redundant. We are now paying the price. There is a shortage of skilled people in their twenties."

So critical is the shortage of welders and shipbuilders for Poland's shipping industry that Poland and Germany are close to an accord to allow skilled ship workers from northern German ports who are unemployed to go across to Poland to work.

The government is also granting work permits to skilled and unskilled labourers from its eastern neighbours in the hope of wooing Ukrainians and Belarussians to Poland, where wages are two or three times higher than at home.

However, the work permit system is regarded as a fiasco and last year, only 2,697 Ukrainians and 610 Belarussians took up the offer of work permits, although the Polish authorities issued a total of 10,304 such permits to foreigners.

Migration experts say the low number is hardly surprising.

"Polish labor costs are too high," he said, "so Ukrainians prefer to go south to Spain and Portugal. Employers here say it is now not worth their while to hire on the official labor market. Some resort to the black economy to employ Ukrainians, or Poles for that matter," Iglicka said.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Controversial audit in the Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education (MEN) has announced a tender to audit EU projects. Auditors are surprised because the requirements are really low.

At the beginning of September, the ministry cancelled the tender to audit projects financed from EU funds. The procedure to choose the auditor is being repeated now, however, the requirements are surprisingly low. The control covers 7 projects, including the delivery of specialist equipment, equipping training centers, trainings for teachers – Project worth several hundreds million zloty out of PLN 2.9 billion (EUR 759.8m) program. In the previous tender, the ministry expected that the audit would cost over PLN 0.5m. However, the conditions were not prepared well and offers worth PLN 8,000 were submitted.

“MEN is afraid of the audit. We are not going to apply because there are no limits and every statutory auditor may try to win the contract”, one of well-known auditing companies wrote to “PB”.

“The specification has not been published yet so it is not true that it is made wrong. The allegation that everybody can start in the tender is not true. The Ministry prepared the conditions basing on the outlines from the Ministry of Regional Development”, MEN said.

Controversial audit in the Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education (MEN) has announced a tender to audit EU projects. Auditors are surprised because the requirements are really low.

At the beginning of September, the ministry cancelled the tender to audit projects financed from EU funds. The procedure to choose the auditor is being repeated now, however, the requirements are surprisingly low. The control covers 7 projects, including the delivery of specialist equipment, equipping training centers, trainings for teachers – Project worth several hundreds million zloty out of PLN 2.9 billion (EUR 759.8m) program. In the previous tender, the ministry expected that the audit would cost over PLN 0.5m. However, the conditions were not prepared well and offers worth PLN 8,000 were submitted.

“MEN is afraid of the audit. We are not going to apply because there are no limits and every statutory auditor may try to win the contract”, one of well-known auditing companies wrote to “PB”.

“The specification has not been published yet so it is not true that it is made wrong. The allegation that everybody can start in the tender is not true. The Ministry prepared the conditions basing on the outlines from the Ministry of Regional Development”, MEN said.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Polish Drug Companies operated unregulated.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in a high profile personal visit to the site, ordered a pharmaceutical company, Jelfa Drug Company, in Poland shut down because it had put onto the market a product that did not contain the medication stated on the label.

Prime Minister Kaczynski did not mention that the pharmaceutical companies in Poland had been operating unregulated since December of last year when the old regulations expired. And he did not mention that new regulations would be put in place immediately.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the Polish Government knew of the mislabeled medication for months and either covered it up or took no action. One report in Poland says "The labelling mistake was first discovered a month ago, when two women collapsed after being treated with the medicine. Until now the manufacturer and the Health Ministry failed to inform of the danger." See

The company was taken over earlier this year by AB Sanitas, the largest drug producer in neighbouring Lithuania. It admitted that the error was theirs.

But the Polish Government said that the consignment had been produced in 2005, when Jelfa still belonged to the Polish state. See

The company is to remain shut down until the Polish government is satisfied that it can safely produce medications. The producer is contesting the shutdown See

Furthermore, the decision to shut down the plant has been questioned by the Lithuanian Prime Minister who said that he would try to set things straight through diplomatic channels. See

The situation is confusing and affecting the employees who are now not working. They are being penalized for an error being made when the Polish Government was operating the plant. And some see the shutdown as a political move to mask the Polish Government's failure to inform the public immediately of the problem and also to allow drug companies to operate unregulated since December of last year.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Polish News Bulletin, Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Nov 05, 2006

WARSAW - One of the flagship projects initiated by former PZU CEO Cezary
Stypulkowski - foreign expansion - is a serious problem for the current top
brass at the insurer.

Recently PZU Lietuva, the insurance company's Lithuanian subsidiary, had to
be capitalised with ZL35m. It looks like a similar operation will be
necessary in the case of PZU's Ukrainian companies, PZU Ukraine and PZU
Ukraine Life.

According to Puls Biznesu, the scale of irregularities in PZU's Ukrainian
firms is so large that dismissals among the top officials in them will

A person who read a classified report on the condition of PZU's Ukrainian
assets told Puls Biznesu that it is an embarrassment to its management and
supervisory board (both entities have the same top guns).

Information on PZU's foreign investments is to be presented at the insurer's
extraordinary meeting of shareholders on Friday.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Poland continues anti-drunk campaign

Poland's Ministry of Justice launched an anti drunk driving campaign some months ago. Over this All Saints' Day holiday that campaign was continued with the deployment of some 15,000 police officers on the road of Poland.

The results of the deployment are impressive. During the period starting last Friday and ending yesterday evening, 1 November, 2006 All Saints Day in Poland, the police revoked the licenses of some 3000 drivers.

Even though some 3000 drivers were taken off the roads, the carnage was still high. There were approximately blank accidents and light deaths.

The anti-drunk campaign is having an immediate effect. But it is primarily based on enforcement and not education of the public to stigmatize alcohol and driving.

Currently there is no social stigma attached to driving drunk. It almost appears driving while drunk gives one some form of elevated social status.

The revocation of licenses is an administrative matter that is ignored by many Polish drivers. They just return to the roads and drive under the influence of alcohol again.

It is time for the country to do more than simple enforcement of laws that are ignored.

The cost to society involved in putting 15,000 police officers on the road specifically looking for drunk drivers, the costs of the fire engine and rescue services, the cost to the health-care system, the cost to families losing loved ones, and the general cost to society are too high to ignore this problem.

There must be more public advertising to make drunk driving socially unacceptable.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poland ranks in the Internet Spam top-10

Currently Poland is seen as a hotbed of Internet fraud and spam. Poland's Internet provider is helping to foster that image. It is rated currently as the eighth top spam network in the world. See The spam that emanates from this network not only fills mailboxes around the world with trash and fraudulent offers, it does economic damage to Polish companies.

Internet spam generally result because certain Internet providers knowingly sell their services to known spammers. Other Internet providers, often because it is economically beneficial to do so, turn a blind guy to the spam problem.

One of the organizations that combat spam is known as Spam House. For those who utilize the services of Poland's Internet provider, the name Spam House becomes familiar very quickly.

It is a matter of routine for users of to have their e-mail services blocked by Spam House because Spam House determines, in its own arbitrary way, that an innocent user is a spanner.

In order to be removed from the Spam House of blocking list, one must contact Spam House and request them to manually review the account and wait for it to be unblocked. That normally takes one to two hours. This can shut down a company's operations and cost the company a great deal of money in lost productivity.

Likewise if one is using one of the wireless network cards, it is not uncommon to have a emails blocked by Spam House. If one is mobile, such as on a train, the inconvenience of having to wait a couple of hours to have e-mail unblocked can be most frustrating.

An alternative solution to the problem is to disconnect one modem from the Internet for about five minutes. If one is lucky, upon reconnecting the new IP addresses assigned to the wireless card or to one's own modem will not be blocked by Spam House and one will be able to quickly resume Internet operations. To this a caveat must be added concerning wireless cards. In some areas only a few IP addresses are assigned and all of them can be blocked. So connecting and unconnecting will not help.

Calling is essentially a waste of time because they say that the problem is not theirs and one should contact Spam House.

Even though Poland in many ways leads the world in use of the Internet, its leading Internet provider seems to have no interest in helping rid the world of spam.

This is not only harmful to private and business users of the internet, but also to Poland's image and reputation around the world.