Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Emergency landing in Cologne after Polish passenger makes bomb joke

A Ryanair jet made a non-scheduled landing in the German city of Cologne during the night after a Polish passenger pretended to have a bomb in his carry-on luggage, German police said Wednesday.

The plane was flying from Luebeck, northern Germany, to Stansted near London. The passenger, 22, had refused to switch off his cellphone when asked to do so by the man seated next to him, and then claimed he had a bomb.

The Irish plane was over Dutch territory at this time. Its pilot issued an emergency radio call and diverted to Cologne, Germany.

Police arrested the passenger when the plane touched down shortly before midnight, but found no bomb in his luggage. He was slightly drunk and insisted he had been joking. Police freed him on bail on the condition that he immediately return to Poland.

The jet resumed its journey after 2 hours on the ground. Police said the passenger would be summoned later to answer German charges of breaching the peace by threatening a crime.

Poland's Prime Minister Kaczynski target of death threat

Conservative Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski was target of a death threat consisting of a written message and three bullets, Poland's liberal Gazeta Wyborcza reported Wednesday.

'For the cat, your mother and you,' read the card that was posted in an envelope with the bullets, one for a Russian-made Kalashnikov submachine gun, and two others used in weapons issued to the Polish police and the military.

A bachelor, Jaroslaw Kaczynski has long-lived in a household with his mother and a cat.

The Government Protection Bureau (BOR) has beefed-up security for both the prime minister and Jadwiga Kaczynska, mother to both Premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski and identical twin President Lech Kaczynski.

Police and security services are looking for suspects in the case, which is being regarded as a potential act of political terrorism.

The letter was addressed to the prime minister's chancellery in

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tortured priest's tenacity exposes betrayal in church

Eighteen months ago, Rev. Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski heard a startling report on the radio.

Communist-era files thought to have been destroyed years ago had in fact been preserved, the report said. They chronicled obsessive efforts by the SB, the regime's despised security police, to intimidate or compromise Roman Catholic clergy who were lending moral support to the Solidarity trade union movement.

One of the thickest files, according to the radio report, was Zaleski's.

Four days later, the priest went to the Institute of National Remembrance and asked to see his file. It was 500 pages long and included a videotape of a 1985 torture session during which a gang of SB goons used cigarettes to tattoo a Solidarity "V" on Zaleski's chest. The SB apparently used the tape as a training tool.

Despite warnings from the church to let the matter rest, Zaleski continued to dig into the files. The result is a book to be published this week that will identify 39 clergymen in the Krakow archdiocese, including five bishops, who served as SB informants or collaborators.

The anticipated embarrassment of these revelations, along with last month's stunning resignation of Warsaw's newly appointed archbishop after he was exposed as an SB collaborator, has plunged the Polish church into crisis and threatens to tarnish its once-pristine moral authority.

For Zaleski, the most painful part was not the video of his assault but discovering the identity of people who provided the SB with information about him.

"Two priests and many ordinary people. I was absolutely and completely surprised. I had no suspicion that there would be anything like this," said the 50-year-old priest.

As Zaleski explained his controversial undertaking in an interview, the strain of the last few months showed in his eyes. A camera crew from Polish television was waiting in the next room. A sense of unfolding drama was palpable.

Church resists exposure

Zaleski, speaking in a soft, measured voice, explained how he sought the advice of his superiors after discovering the betrayal by fellow priests.

"They told me that my files were not of interest to anyone. They said I should burn them," he said.

Zaleski thought this would be a mistake. He wrote to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime private secretary to Pope John Paul II who had recently become archbishop of Krakow, asking him what to do. His first letter was ignored. He wrote again. This time Dziwisz advised the priest that he should trust his worries to the Virgin Mary.

But pressure was building. A new conservative government with close ties to the church was about to take power after campaigning on a promise to open the SB files and punish the former agents and their collaborators.

The Catholic hierarchy in Poland was not particularly concerned by that development. The church rightly views itself as one of the heroes in the struggle against communism. Church leaders knew that a few priests probably served as informants or collaborators, but they also believed--mistakenly, it would turn out--that the SB had burned the files relating to the church.

At a meeting of former Solidarity activists, Zaleski suggested that the church undertake a thorough investigation of its activities during the communist era and publish the findings.

"The devil is to hide the truth. This was the mistake of the church in the pedophilia scandal in Ireland and the United States," he said. The church responded to Zaleski's suggestion with fury, publishing an open letter criticizing the priest.

At that point Zaleski decided to pursue the investigation on his own and to publish his findings.

Last May, he was ready to reveal the names of the collaborators, but Dziwisz asked him not to. Exposing the clerics in such fashion, the cardinal said, would undermine "love for the church and Christ."

After a meeting with the cardinal the following month, Zaleski said, he received permission to continue with his project on the condition that all of those named in the book would be notified in advance and given a chance to defend themselves.
Click here for full story...

Italy police free Polish 'slaves'

Italian police say they have freed at least 100 Poles "kept in a state of slavery" in forced labour camps in the south of the country.
Some 20 people were also held in a joint operation with Polish police targeting a criminal ring that supplied farm workers in Italy's Puglia region.

Officials said the workers were kept in barracks with horrible sanitary conditions against their will.

Those who tried to escape were reportedly raped and tortured.

"To call the situation revealed by the carabinieri [police] investigation simply inhuman does in no way do it justice," Italian prosecutor Piero Grasso told reporters.

"We are talking about conditions similar to those of concentration camps where people were not only exploited for their work but also kept in a state of slavery," he added.

Officials said they were investigating at least four cases of apparent suicide in the camps.

The trafficking ring recruited Poles for seasonal work on Italian farms through newspaper adverts, promising them well-paid and safe jobs, Polish police said.

"Those who applied were charged 400-800 [Polish] zloty (£68-£136; 100-200 euros), plus another 150 euros (£103) when they reached Italy," Polish police chief Marek Bienkowski told a news conference in Warsaw.


Once in Italy, the workers were kept in barracks without heating and light and were watched by armed guards, officials said.

They had been forced to work for up to 15 hours a day, earning between two and five euros (£1.40-£3.40) an hour.

They had to pay for their accommodation and food, which pushed most of them into debt.

At least 20 members of the suspected ring were arrested during the joint operation codenamed Promised Land, police said.

What do the Poles Think about the Polish Politicians?

It is a fact that in no country its citizens have high opinion about their politicians. The Poles are thus in great company. On the other hand, the degree of contempt that the Poles display towards their elected leaders in unmatched.

There is a reason for it, though: If you happen to be watching the weekly Polish news supplied by the Polish television to the rest of the world, you will soon notice that two subjects dominate the news: the politicians and the corruption in an eclectic mix.

The fall of the old corrupt regime has created, unfortunately, a perfect opportunity for a new, as it seems, even more corrupt regime to rise, only nowadays the stakes are higher. After all, the Poles now deal in a currency that has a real value. The shelves are filled with attractive products, new, shining Toyotas and BMWs waiting for the rich buyer. The situation is similar in the former USSR and its other satellites.

It seems to be a universal rule that the poorer the country, the higher probability of politicians taking advantage of the situation. After all, it they rule the country, it is no more than right that they reward themselves, they reason.

And then there is the old boy's club helping their chums when in trouble. A famous example is the quite recent pardoning by the former President Mr. Kwasniewski of a former minister that tipped off the Polish mafia about a coming police raid.

A week or so before leaving the office, Mr. Kwasniewski decided to pardon the poor man sentenced to a few years in jail. Isn't it nice to see this kind of loyalty? And isn't it a true Christian virtue to forgive?

The only trouble is that Mr. Kwasniewski, as a former communist, is hardly likely to read the Bible for breakfast. There must be some other motivation at play, the Poles reason.

There is an ongoing discussion on one Polish website aptly named: "Polish politicians, cheats, thieves, liars", which gives one a good idea about the general feeling between the ordinary Poles in this regard.

The best proof of the deep disenchantment with the politicians was the recent election in 2005, in which only 40% of Poles took part. Whether they realized it or not, by staying home, abstaining from visiting the voting booth, the absentees still voted against the current democratic system and the politicians at the helmet. No one stays at home, unless he or she feels their vote does not count. Thus, no more than 7 million Poles out of over 40 million chose the government in power.

As a result, a minority rules the majority, which is exactly the opposite how a true democracy should work. The politicians don't care, as long as they get elected and enjoy the power and the financial benefits. And why would they?

"The Poles are a nation of idiots," the former Polish dictator, Jozef Pilsudski used to say and you can not help but wonder" When 60% does not find it worthwhile to get their butts off the couch and vote for a change. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot.

On the other hand one cannot but wonder what brings about this kind of lethal apathy. What kind of society brings up people that passive and that disillusioned, seemingly positively convinced, that nothing they do can change the situation for the better. Better roll with it"

The disrespect for politicians is sadly reflected in the seldom flattering aliases they are assigned. In particular, two Polish leading politicians were singled out; Andrzej Lepper and Maciej Giertych both were given the denigrating title of "kretyn," which can be freely translated as nit-wit. Still, at least some people vote for them. One anynonymous voice feels it is not fair to single out those two particular gentlemen in this regard: "All of members of the parliament are nit-wits."

The (non) voting camp is not blind, they see if the people in power are incompetent. Jan, 18 says, "Although I am young and just beginning to be interested in politics, I feel like laughing when I see how they handle the funds given to us by the EU. How will they manage to spend 60 billion euro, when they didn't manage to spend the 12 billion euro received last year. An acquaintance of mine applied for funds three time and was turned down every time - by a Polish bureaucrat."

According to Andrzej, "PIS (the winning party of the election) already is looking for a way to break their election promises" and as a result, he adds, "I will never vote, politicians are cheats, the citizens are only needed during the election."

The democracy does not seem to be the Garden of Eden that the Poles hoped for in 1989 when the old regime fell apart. Janusz confirms, "I think that the whole 60% has had enough of what'd been happening to Poland in the last 15 years. Better go for a walk than spend time in a voting both to no avail."

Magda believes that non-voters are wrong: "Politicians will never become smarter or honest. It is up to us to choose those that are a little bit smarter and a little bit more honest. This is how democracy works."

Janusz disagrees: "I feel that no one should vote. Maybe then politicians will realize that they do not represent the nation and quit."

Andy's solution is different: "Everyone should leave a blank vote. That would be good!"

Marta states: "Politicians are thieves. We are not a poor country, but it is they that have the most money. We cannot dream about the residences like the politicians have. This is why people don't vote."

Jurek calls out: "Those that vote for the thieves should suffer under their rule," although he fails to explain why the ones that did not vote should also suffer.

It is depressing to delve into the Polish democracy, that turned out to be not the panacea for the country's problems Poles had hoped for, but instead proverbial fool's gold, too good to be true. It is first now that the Poles slowly come to realize that democracy is no magic pill. It does not bring an immediate improvement in circumstances by itself, but works more like a tool that takes long time to master and that, unfortunately, many countries never learn how to. Whether Poles will learn the ropes, remains to be seen. One thing is certain, the situation will not change for the better unless the Polish people get involved and take charge.

EU keeps pressure on Polish highway construction plans

The European Commission on February 23 increased pressure on Poland to halt building a section of trans-European highway in a protected region, saying it was considering “to request” a European court order to halt the project “as soon as possible.”

The commission is to ask the European Court of Justice, the bloc’s second-highest tribunal, to stop the disputed project should construction works have been begun, or to block the works from being started, Barbara Helfferich, European commission spokeswoman told journalists.

“The commission is studying the possibility of taking a decision to go to the court as soon as possible,” she added.

The spokeswoman also said that an EU member state might face hefty fines if it did not comply with the court’s judgment. “We expect Poland to take less dangerous alternatives,” Helfferich said.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas earlier last week indicated that he was ready to take legal action to ensure that no irreparable damage was done. If Warsaw pursued its course, Dimas warned, it would represent a “major catastrophe” for the pristine Rospuda river valley.

On the other hand, Poland announced it will hold a referendum in its north-eastern region on whether to build a controversial road through an environmentally protected area. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said the dispute between the government and environmentalists had become a “national problem.” “According to law, this controversy can be solved in one way only: by asking the opinion of the residents of the region,” Kaczynski told a news conference on February 23.

Helfferich told journalists in Brussels, “In this case, if the Polish government decides to undertake a referendum, we will not stop them.”

Moreover, on orders of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, Poland’s anti-corruption bureau on February 22 began a probe into possible wrongdoing in a tender for the planned construction. The move came as Greenpeace environmentalists camped out in the protected valley’s snowy forests in bone-chilling cold, vowing to block construction work.

Surveyors from Budimex Dromex, a private company, began initial survey work in the valley February 22 as Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) agents probed General Directorate of National Roads and Highways (GDDKiA) offices responsible for public tenders for contracts with private companies on the project.

Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother, the prime minister, ordered the CBA probe over concerns that the awarding of construction contracts may have been marred by corruption.

In an interesting move, Poland’s First Lady Maria Kaczynski joined the chorus of protest against plans to construct a platform highway through the pristine river valley. “We can’t be barbarians,” she told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

“With all my heart I support the preservation of the Rospuda Valley in a pristine state,” Kaczynska told the paper. “I don’t believe that after construction of the highway it will be possible to restore the original beauty of this place,” she said. “Man cannot recreate this symphony of nature.”

Her words echo those of her husband, the president, who voiced his “disapproval” for the highway plan approved by Poland’s Environment Minister Jan Szyszko.

Moreover, the British Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has criticised the project, saying it will endanger a number of animal species. “The international transport corridor will put at risk strongholds of lynx, wolf and the most important European Union populations of two globally-threatened birds: the greater spotted eagle and aquatic warbler,” the RSPB said in a statement issued February 22.

Local residents in the northern Polish resort town of Augustow have voiced support for the planned 17-kilometre-long stretch of platform highway cutting through the protected Rospuda wetland to the popular Mazurian lakes resort.

The highway project is also part of the larger international Via Baltica route designed to create a high-speed road link to Poland’s fellow EU Baltic neighbours Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The controversial project has been in the pipeline for more than a decade. Poland joined the EU in May 2004.

The EU had already warned Poland in 2006 it could face legal action and penalties for failing to “adequately protect” its natural habitats. EU Commission biodiversity expert Agata Zdanowicz said Poland had so far failed to comply with the EU’s Natura 2000 programme, describing the situation as “serious.”

The Commission started an “infringement procedure” against Poland in April 2006. This could lead to a court case and the blocking of EU funds for projects in Poland’s environmentally fragile areas. Natura 2000 is an EU-wide programme to safeguard the 27-nation bloc’s most important wildlife areas and species.

Poland Condemns German Media Satire of its President

Poland's conservative government Tuesday lashed out at a German left-wing daily that satirized Polish President Lech Kaczynski, as officials demanded that political leaders in Germany condemn the newspaper.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz attacked the article in the Tageszeitung daily as "disgusting."

"It's hard to imagine that someone in Poland could publish similar comments about other heads of state. A reaction is necessary," he stormed.

Andrzej Krawczyk, an official in Kaczynski's office, said he was in touch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's officials over the article.

"We expect criticism ... a rejection of articles of this type about the head of a state that is a friend of Germany," Krawczyk said, adding: "We have outlined and transmitted our position on this article: astonishment, indignation and disgust."

Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said that the "lack of reaction from Germany's principal politicians is disturbing."

"Never before, even in press attacks on Saddam Hussein or (Belarus) President Alexander Lukashenko, have we had to deal with an attack on such a scale and using such language," Fotyga added.

Tradition of disrespect

The Tageszeitung daily, which is close to Germany's opposition Greens party and anti-globalisation groups and which is known for its lack of reserve in voicing opinions, published an article June 26 headlined "The Polish new potatoes" as part of a series entitled "Rogues who want to rule the world."

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The Kaczynski brothers
At one point, in a comment loaded with innuendo, the article referred both to President Kaczynski, who in his previous post as mayor of Warsaw banned gay parades in 2004 and 2005, and his twin brother Jaroslaw, head of Poland's ruling, conservative Law and Justice party.

"The two have proved that they are clean both in front and behind: Lech, who several times forbade men in Warsaw from showing their behind, and especially Jaroslaw, who lives with his mother," the article said.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cruel racket that leaves Poles penniless

FOR them it is a last, desperate gamble to break free of poverty in their homeland.

Yet thousands of Poles who arrive in Slough are victims of heartless conmen.

They have fallen foul of a scam that leaves them stranded in Britain with nothing more than the clothes they stand in.

Many break down in tears at the roadside. And with many unable to speak English they head for the nearest house for help.

For those who decide to tough it out in Slough, they can be drawn into a downward spiral, living illegally in squalid conditons. They are exploited by employers who pay them as little as £1.50 an hour.

Over the past six months, 190 victims of this scam have been uncovered by police. But Detective inspector Steve Armstead, of Slough CID believes the real figure could run into thousands.

He co-ordinates Operation Canary, set up to uncover the organised crime behind this con. He works with Detective Constable James Turner, who has built up a reputation as an authority on the scams.

DI Armstead said: "The Poles are decent, hard-working people and they are the victims here. We want the help of the Polish community in trying to catch those responsible."

The scam begins with an advert in a Polish national newspaper, Gazetta Wyborca.

This usually reads: 'Jobs available in the UK. No specific skills required. No English necessary. Just phone this number.'

It usually mentions a reputable company in Britain.

Poles then ring a mobile number, which belongs to someone based in Slough. After making the journey to Britain they are collected from the airport or Victoria station by a driver who is part of the scam. When they arrive in Slough, they are asked to hand over £250.

D I Armstead said: "They hand over the money in the belief that it will get them employment or something to do with health and safety or language classes.

"The driver then disappears. The money the victims have spent in just getting over to Britain and the £250 is usually their life savings. So they are just left there, somewhere to the west of London. They usually burst into tears."

The distraught new arrivals usually walk to the nearest home to get help and are taken to Slough police station, where they end up sleeping on the floor behind the counter.

The Poles, who can be aged from 18 to their 50s, who decide to stay on in Slough, can end up living an even more wretched existence. They are forced to sleep in houses with five to a bedroom, or sleep in corridor or kitchen floors.

Ironically, Gazetta Wyborca, the newspaper which runs the advert, also runs stories warning that the streets of London or Slough are not paved with gold.

So far only ten arrests have been in connection the scam. But they have been drivers, those who collect the new arrivals from airports and coaches. "These are just the foot soldiers. We want to get to those who are further up in the hierarchy."

D I Armstead said they are working hard at forging stronger links with the Polish community to enlist their support.

He said: "There is a mistrust of the police, which probably stems from the communist era in Poland."

Travel firm offers trips to CIA prison that Polish authorities deny exists

A Polish travel firm said Thursday it was giving tourists a chance to follow in the footsteps of CIA agents and terror suspects near an alleged US detention centre in Poland's lakeland -- which the authorities deny exists.

Visitors will be able to cycle and canoe near the Polish intelligence service's training centre at Stare Kiejkuty in the northern Mazuria region, and the nearby Szymany airport, Joanna Sobieska of Szarpie Travel was quoted as saying by the PAP news agency.

Stare Kiejjuty and Szymany have been in the spotlight since allegations surfaced that the United States had flown terror suspects to Poland for interrogation.

Washington acknowledged last September that it had held suspects in secret outside US territory, but refused to say where.

A report approved last week by the European Parliament alleged that a host of European Union member states and several other countries had turned a blind eye to or even facilitated covert US flights.

The investigating lawmakers had suggested that Poland and Romania may have hosted CIA detention centres -- something both countries have fiercely denied -- but an amendment to the study said there was insufficient proof.

Poland was singled out for its "flagrant" lack of cooperation with the parliamentary investigation, which began in 2005.

Court to investigate allegations that former Warsaw archbishop collaborated with secret police

A court agreed Thursday to the former Warsaw archbishop's request for an investigation into allegations that he cooperated with the communist-era secret police.

Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church was rattled when Stanislaw Wielgus abruptly resigned as Warsaw archbishop just minutes before he was to be formally installed at an opulent Mass on Jan. 7.

He stepped down after admitting he agreed to cooperate with the much-hated communist-era secret services but denied hurting anyone.

Last week, Wielgus asked a special screening court to take up his case in an attempt to clear his name.

The court allows public individuals accused of collaboration to seek a ruling on whether they were informers — a step some opt for in an attempt to clear their names.

Poland's screening law exempts members of the clergy, but because Wielgus served as rector of the Catholic University in Lublin, judge Malgorzata Mojkowska ruled he also holds a right to screening.

Wielgus has acknowledged signing documents agreeing to cooperate with secret police, but argues they are now unreliable.

In a letter made public on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI expressed "understanding" and a "wish" that Wielgus "resume his activity in the service of Christ."

The Wielgus scandal spurred Poland's church to finally address the issue of collaboration among the clergy — a touchy issue given Polish reverence for the Church as a bastion of resistance to the Communists.

Polish-born Pope John Paul II, the former archbishop of Krakow, is credited by many with helping hasten the regime's demise in 1989.


TWO terrified teenage girls were forced to take a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride around Harlow and Epping after the driver refused to let them get off.

College students Kandice Firth, of Tilbury Mead, and Michelle Burgess, of Nicholls Field, were driven to North Weald via Epping before an unmarked police car stopped the bus.

Both the police and bus company SM Coaches blamed the incident on a misunderstanding, but the 17-year-olds are angry that the Polish driver, who spoke little English, was not arrested and so far they have received no apology for their ordeal.

The girls got on the busy T15 service at Harlow bus station at 4.45pm on Monday with the intention of getting off at Potter Street.

However, the driver drove to Old Harlow where all passengers except the girls disembarked. "We thought he was just going to take the bus back to the town centre so we stayed on," said Miss Firth.

Instead, he headed across the A414/M11 roundabout into Epping before turning and heading back along country lanes to North Weald.

"Every time we got up to get off he shouted at us to sit down and then just kept driving and that's when it started getting scary," said Miss Burgess.

"I was really crying at this point," added Miss Firth, who said they held up a sign on which they had written the word 'help' to alert other motorists to their plight.

"You always think you know what you would do in a situation like that but you just freeze."

The bus was eventually pulled over by unmarked police cars and the girls claim the driver tried to run away.

They finally got back to Harlow at 7.30pm, driven home in the bus by the same driver.

An SM Coaches spokeswoman confirmed the driver worked for the firm but said no action had been taken against him. "He has been learning new routes and must have got confused and then got overwhelmed by the whole situation," she said.

An Essex Police spokeswoman added: "It was just a language barrier problem and it seems the whole thing was just a misunderstanding."

That explanation did not satisfy the girls, however. "We are not going to let this go," said Miss Firth. "They are not taking us seriously; we felt like we were being held hostage and we were in tears.

"They would take it seriously if we were OAPs. How is he allowed to drive a bus if he can't even speak English?"

Court agreed today to the former Warsaw archbishop's request for an investigation

A court agreed today to the former Warsaw archbishop's request for an investigation into allegations that he cooperated with the communist-era secret police, The Associated Press reports.
Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church was rattled when Stanislaw Wielgus abruptly resigned as Warsaw archbishop just minutes before he was to be formally installed at an opulent Mass on January 7. He stepped down after admitting he agreed to cooperate with the much-hated communist-era secret services but denied hurting anyone.
Last week, Wielgus asked a special screening court to take up his case in an attempt to clear his name. The court allows public individuals accused of collaboration to seek a ruling on whether they were informers — a step some opt for in an attempt to clear their names.
Poland's screening law exempts members of the clergy, but because Wielgus served as rector of the Catholic University in Lublin, judge Malgorzata Mojkowska ruled he also holds a right to screening. Wielgus has acknowledged signing documents agreeing to cooperate with secret police, but argues they are now unreliable.
In a letter made public on Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI expressed "understanding" and a "wish" that Wielgus "resume his activity in the service of Christ."
The Wielgus scandal spurred Poland's church to finally address the issue of collaboration among the clergy — a touchy issue given Polish reverence for the Church as a bastion of resistance to the Communists.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Trial planned in Poland

A man who fled while free on bail after a fatal traffic accident is scheduled for trial next month in Poland. Polish authorities refused to extradite Andrew Caesar Nowak, 49, a native of Poland who later became a U.S. citizen, but agreed to prosecute him there on five felony charges. He could receive up to 12 years in a Polish prison, court documents state.

Police said Nowak smelled of alcohol and was driving with a suspended license when his van ran a stop sign on Sept. 9, 2002, and crashed into a car. The other driver, William H. Mendenhall, 70, died.

Nowak was released on $25,000 unsecured bail but within days sold property valued at $430,000 and left the country, Assistant District Attorney Todd E. Brown said. Police found Nowak in Czestochowa, Poland, in 2004.

  • Note: Notice that he has been in jail in Poland for three years simply awaiting trial...
  • Polish Soccar Scandal May Hurt Ukraine

    Ukraine’s hopes of hosting the 2012 European soccer championship may be under threat due to an escalating scandal in neighboring Poland, with which it recently submitted a joint bid.

    Days before the bid was submitted on Feb. 14, the controversial head of Ukraine’s Football Federation (FFU), Hryhory Surkis, blamed the Polish government for jeopardizing both countries’ big chance to earn top tourist revenues from the major sporting event by allegedly mishandling a corruption scandal.

    In January, a member of the Polish Football Association (PZPN) was detained on charges of fixing matches and bribing referees in addition to more than 60 Polish soccer officials detained or arrested over the last 11 months.

    Poland’s Sports Ministry supported the crackdown and threatened to prosecute corrupt soccer officials.

    On Jan. 19, Polish Sports Minister Thomasz Lipiec removed a top PZPN official.

    In a Feb. 5 interview with Russia’s Sport Express daily, Surkis accused the Polish Sports Ministry of “cynical actions and statements.”

    Surkis, a businessman and former member of parliament, said Polish Sports Minister Lipiec doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    No stranger to controversy related to politics, business as well as football, Surkis made similar statements to the Polish daily Dziennik.

    Adam Olkowich, vice president of the Polish Euro-2012 committee, said Lipiec also demanded that the entire PZPN board resigns and that new elections be held for their posts. As of Feb. 13, the ministry and PZPN had still not set a date and procedure for new elections, he added.

    On Jan. 22, the Union of European Football Associations, or UEFA, and the Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA, issued a joint statement in which they expressed concern about the appointment of a new commissioner to head PZPN. Both organizations expressed their concern that the handling of the situation violated the principles of independent sports and contravened FIFA statutes.

    Later, on Jan. 31, FIFA issued an even harsher statement saying that if the Polish Sports Ministry does not reverse its decision to appoint a commissioner it might face suspension of PZPN from “all international contacts,” “participation in international competitions,” and “organizations of international matches.”

    Lipiec stood firm, however, brushing criticism aside. He told Polish journalists on Jan. 25 that both countries’ joint bid was hurt more by the PZPN’s failure to handle the corruption affair properly.

    Surkis, recently elected to the UEFA executive committee, said that similar state interference into soccer affairs in Greece and Portugal led to disqualifications of these countries from any international soccer activities until their parliaments legislatively limited such interference. There might not be enough time left to do that in Poland’s case, he added.

    Olkowich said that he could only hope that the current football scandal would have a minimal influence on the UEFA’s decision regarding the Euro-2012 host.

    UEFA will take a final decision on April 18.

    Although the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), based in Switzerland, received the joint bid on time, Ukraine and Poland must still compete against the runner up bids from fellow Eastern Europeans Hungary-Croatia and World Cup winner Italy, which itself was rocked by a match-fixing scandal last year.

    The joint Ukrainian-Polish bid has faced other hurdles. Surkis was accused of jeopardizing the Ukrainian-Polish Euro-2012 bid last March in connection with his hard-line position in relation to a shopping project near Kyiv’s Olympic stadium. Through appeals to city lawmakers and administrators, the FFU managed to halt construction of the shopping center, which borders the stadium. The FFU maintained that the shopping center, already half built, violated UEFA safety standards. Construction was halted last year and has not resumed since.

    Insiders close to the construction project claimed that Surkis’s motivation for the protest was related to his business interests, not football.

    Last November, Surkis’ younger brother Ihor, who co-owns and heads one of Ukraine’s leading soccer teams, Dynamo Kyiv, was at the center of a football scandal closer to home.

    The coach of a rival Ukrainian team Shakhtar, Romanian Mircea Lucescu, suggested at a press conference that the two brothers had fixed a match through the placement of an impartial foreign referee.

    Polish PM: Critique of report on Military Intelligence shows that democracy is not functioning in full

    On Friday the Polish President released a long awaited report on the activities of the Military Intelligence Services. He said that no changes were made to the report after it was submitted to him. The report was criticised but generally regarded as a flop.
    That was until Sunday evening when Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper called it a "dud" but promised there would be a scandal the next day. His prediction was accurate. On Monday, after revelations of changes by the Polish daily Dziennik, the Polish President said that two names had been removed from a list and admitted to other changes. The media erupted. The Prime Minister ascribes the resulting criticism to a democracy that is not functioning in full.
    According to Former Minister of Defense and member of the Polish Government opposition party SLD Jerzy Szmajdzinski, criticism resulted because "…the most important people in the country are lying."
    Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Roman Giertych added that he thinks that not only 2 names, as stated by the President, but as many as 20 names may have been removed.
    The Polish President released a report on the Poland's Militiary Intelligence services that included the names of active agents and who are asking what they should do now that their cover is blown. And they have not gotten answers. The report released on Friday is being hailed by the Russians as a treasure trove of information about Polish intelligence gathering, Master Page writes.

    Marek Jedrys
    It is even reported that some people who were friends of Polish agents have disappeared. Beyond that, two active agents had their names published in the report and have been left without instructions as to what to do now that they cannot act covertly. Addtionally, four ambassadors have been called to Poland for consultations. They are the ambassadors to Austria, Kuwait, China and Turkey.
    The report further gives 90 names of military attaches who were trained in USSR. The report doesn't accuse them of any crimes. Forty of these people are still active in Polish deplomacy abroad. This report is the end of their carriers, according to former foreign minister Adam Rotfeld.
    In what might be a violation of the Poland's Constitution, the Polish Government issued two versions of the same report concerning the Polish Military Intelligence Services. Polish President Lech Kaczynski says it was done for matters of security. One version of the that named people who cooperated with the Polish Military Intelligence Services was released to Government Officials. A different version was released to the public.
    On Friday, when the report was released, President Kaczynski said that the report had been released as he had gotten it from the Deputy Defense Minister Marcierwicz. No changes were made.
    On Monday, the Polish daily Dziennik In Polish revealed that the copy released to the public was different than the one released to Government Officials. And on Monday, after the Dziennik article, the Polish President said changes had been made.
    Dziennik has responded that the report was manipulated. One was for the Government and one was for PR. The President gave reasons for the changes. One name was removed because of a request of Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz. Another was removed because the person was in a foreign country and he did not find evidence the person operated in Poland outside the law. He did not comment on the added sentence but said that some passages were removed.
    Deputy Prime Minister Giertych has been critical of the changes. He commented that after the revelation of the second report he received a letter from the Government saying that the first version of the report, which had not been classified was now classified.
    That there are two reports has created an uproar in Poland. The Polish media are in a feeding frenzy. Some are questioning the classification and call of national security as the reason for changes.
    One name removed is reportedly that of a man who was appointed by the President's party, Law and Justice, to the head of a "local media." They ask if removing this man's name is about national security or more about Law and Justice wanting to protect this man's job.
    Additionally, the report as published detailed the operations of the Polish Intelligence Services to everyone in the world. The Russians are surprised that they have been given such a gift. And the report has blown the cover of some active agents. If national security was of a concern, why was this information revealed. Constitutional scholars have opined that the President violated the Constitution. They say he can, if he follows the Constitution, either accept or reject the report. He cannot make changes. The Polish Parliament Committee for Special Services will investigate the matter of the changes.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    Polish MEP's anti-Semitic booklet sparks outrage

    Brochure published by far-right Polish deputy to European Parliament says Jews ‘create their own ghettos" because they like to separate themselves from other communities’

    An anti-Semitic booklet published by a far-right Polish deputy to the European Parliament has sparked outrage among EU officials and Jewish organizations.

    The 32-page brochure by "Civilizations at war in Europe" by Maciej Giertych, says Jews "create their own ghettos" because they like to separate themselves from other communities.

    "I am deeply troubled by ... the content of the brochure published by ... European deputy Maciej Giertych," European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said in a statement.

    He said he would investigate the circumstances of the publication of the booklet, which has the parliament's logo, although it was not funded by the Strasbourg-based assembly.

    Giertych, a 71-year-old biology professor, says the booklet is to popularize the work of a little-known Polish historian, but it may also serve to score points with the electorate at home.

    Giertych is a member of the ultra Catholic League of Polish Families, which is a junior partner in Poland's right-wing coalition government. He is the father of Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Roman Giertych

    '19th century racial stereotyping'

    The professor triggered a scandal in the EU Parliament last year when he defended the legacy of Spain's former dictator, General Francisco Franco, during a debate on the 70th anniversary of his coup.

    In his brochure, published in Strasbourg last week, he wrote of Jewish people: "It is a civilization of programmed separateness, of programmed differentiation from the surrounding communities ... By their own will, they prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities ... They form the ghettos themselves ..."

    The remarks were condemned by the European Jewish Congress.

    "The EJC ... reserves the right to bring to court the author of this anti-Semitic text which reeks of medieval hate and 19th century racial stereotyping," it said in a statement.

    Giertych was not immediately available for comment.

    Commenting on the booklet, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said the EU executive "rejects and condemns any manifestations of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia."

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Poland: We need 100 hardcore direct action people

    The bulldozers will start destroying the Rospuda Valley wetlands – unless they meet resistance. We intend to put up a fight to save this natural space and to show the government that people can fight back against their idiocy and corruption.


    The Rospuda Valley is a natural treasure, protected by Nature 2000. It is found within a larger premieval forest complex and is the home to rare and even unique species of fauna and flora. It is home to some rare birds – black storks, lesser spotted eagles, buzzards, harriers and warblers. There are lynx, wolves, elks and beavers in the area.

    But the state wants to build a bypass through it as part of the Via Baltica Highway.

    There are other options for routes but they don’t want to hear about it. Why? Cause road building is big business. Politicians and their friends buy up land and sell it and a big profit. If you know where the road is going to go, you can make a fortune.

    They also don’t want to hear about it because they have big complexes. They don’t like the European Union to tell them what to do because they want to pretend to be a regional superpower. They don’t like ecologists to tell them what to do because they know better what’s good for everybody. Despite the fact that the building of this road is clearly in contradiction which EU regulations, despite the fact that the government of Poland will probably face huge fines (which of course the citizens will have to pay for), and despite the fact that the government was supposed to consult with the EU before doing anything, all the paperwork has been signed and a green light has been given to start the construction.


    Budimex firm is going to build this part of the bypass and either it or a subcontractor will start bulldozing soon. It is thought that this will occur within the next two weeks to a month. In March some birds come to the area which would make this work harder.

    Currently it is –20 degrees in the area. The region where the road will be built is the coldest in Poland and because of the frozen lands, the bulldozers haven’t moved in yet. But it is expected to get warmer next week.

    On Monday Feb. 12, activists arrived in the area to set up a protest camp. For the first few days, only a dozen or more people were there but the number is growing and a large group of people are heading there this weekend. The protestors are ecologists and anarchists for the most part. A larger group of people will probably head out next week because it is anticipated that the weather will warm up a bit and we can expect the bulldozers to come.

    WE NEED PEOPLE WHO CAN SUPPORT THIS ACTION! If you can come, it would be of tremendous help. (If you can’t, there will be ideas on how to support the protest later in this appeal.) In particular, we need people who can take part in the radical direct actions of blocking the bulldozers. Although there is huge public support for this cause, there are simply not enough people for the direct action. It may take a few hundred people to effectively block the road works. And due to the cold and the fact that this action may have to be sustained for a long-term period, we’re going to need lots of help!


    So far the only pictures from the camp are those from Greenpeace. The camp is in a rather rural place and communication with it is not so steady.

    The camp is in the town of Szczebra – that’s 11 kilometers from the town of Augustow. Augustow is about an hour north of Bialystok – if you still can’t image where that is, get a map. (You can find it on or see where Augustow is Look in the northeast, towards the Lithuanian border.)

    If you want to come, you can either go to Augustow and take a taxi (it’s not that expensive) or you can try to contact people from the camp to pick you up.

    You should bring a very warm sleeping bag or tent or be prepared to stay in some agrotourist place for a little money. (Of course the point is to be in the camp though! If you don’t have a tent but want to come, you can call and find out if there is room in somebody’s tent.) If you have rubber or waterproof boots, it would be helpful. Bring warm clothes. Things like a thermos and flashlight are helpful. Direct action equipment is of course the most important if you have it.

    The camp is drug and alcohol free.

    If you want to go with a group of anarchists, contact and we will try to hook you up. If you prefer to contact with Greenpeace or other NGOs, write to: Please be aware that the approaches of different groups might vary, at least for the media.


    In Poland this is a well-known problem with big media attention. Many people have protested by signing petitions, wearing green ribbons and the like. You too can sign an online petition or send a nasty letter to the president, the Minister of the Environment or Budimex. Form letters are boring and may be ignored, but we’ll send some links to samples in English.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    Polish paramedics jailed for murdering patients

    One of the longest, most macabre cases in Polish legal history came to a close last month. Two Polish paramedics who murdered patients and then sold their victims to local undertakers were finally sentenced to prison 5 years after local media discovered the scandal. Ed Holt reports.

    Last month, a court in Poland sentenced Andrzej Nowocien to spend the rest of his life in prison, and Karol Banas to 25 years in jail, for murdering patients while they worked at Lodz Hospital's emergency ward between 2000 and 2001. Two other men were also jailed. Janusz Kuklinski was sentenced to 6 years for knowingly failing to protect the lives of ten patients, and Pawel Wasilewski was given a 5-year sentence after being convicted of the same charge. All four have also been charged with taking money from undertakers in exchange for information about new deaths.

    Prosecutors are still trying to establish the roles played by dozens of other doctors and paramedics in what the judge at the trial, Jaroslaw Papis, called an "organised crime network" and a form of "uncontrolled madness". Only a handful of victims have been identified but there are thought to have been many more. After his arrest, Nowocien, for example, boasted to his prison cell mates that he should be given a medal by the national health system in view of the number of old people he had taken off its hands.

    The case was one of the longest in Polish legal history and began in early 2002 when local media first uncovered the scandal. Arrests soon followed but the large numbers of witnesses and the scale of the investigation meant that it was not until the beginning of this year that sentencing was reached.

    The court had earlier heard how allegedly more than 40 paramedics, doctors, nurses, and undertakers had conspired to ship seriously ill elderly patients straight to funeral parlours rather than hospitals, as a way to make quick cash in a grisly scheme that investigators have said could have been going on for almost 20 years.

    The group in Lodz, central Poland, which reportedly got larger every year as more medical staff were roped in, cashed in on the fact that many families, in the face of death, are often incapable of making decisions about practicalities such as choosing the funeral home. Instead doctors and other medical staff working at Lodz Hospital's emergency ward would recommend to the victims' relatives a certain home with which under-the-table deals had already been arranged. Undertakers would pay up to GB£300 pounds for notification of a new corpse, nicknamed a "skin". And when they wanted to speed up the deaths the paramedics would inject them with a drug to kill them.

    At the trial, the court heard how ambulance drivers, with the full knowledge and co-operation of some doctors, would inject ill patients with large doses of the muscle relaxant pancuronium to kill them and would wander around outside the emergency department smoking or stop off to buy hamburgers as patients lay dying inside ambulances. During the trial Nowocien, who was later described by the judge as "an agent of darkness", said: "On one occasion we were to transport a severely ill patient from Lodz to a nearby hospital in Glowno. The driver was going off duty in half an hour so we went to the emergency department and while I waited for the new driver to get ready for his shift I smoked some cigarettes. All this time the woman was lying for half an hour in a locked ambulance. When we finally set off we figured there was little sense in travelling all the way to Glowno because the patient was about to die any minute anyway. So we headed straight for the undertakers instead, knowing the problem would solve itself on the way. We passed on the woman's corpse direct to the funeral home."

    The Health Ministry has not commented directly on the sentence but state officials have suggested low pay for government-employed medical workers could have been the motivation for the macabre scheme. Corruption in the Polish health sector is perceived to be rife and surveys by groups such as the international corruption watchdog Transparency International repeatedly highlight high levels of perceived corruption in local health care. Anecdotal evidence from ordinary Poles has also suggested that many have either given, or been in, a situation where they have felt expected to give a bribe of some sort to a doctor or medical health worker in return for good treatment. Wages for medical staff in Poland can be as low as GB£300 pounds per month-a wage locals say is barely enough to provide for one person, let alone someone with a family.

    Polish archbishop retracts statement that he aided communist police

    A Polish archbishop who resigned after admitting collaboration with communist secret police has withdrawn his confession and asked a court to clear his name, Catholic News Service reports.
    Lawyers for former Warsaw Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus said he did not collaborate and that his secret police files were falsified. "There was neither secret not conscious collaboration -- in my view, the archbishop acted in the interests of the church," said Marek Malecki, a lawyer acting for Archbishop Wielgus. He said a trial would allow "a different evaluation of the stance of clergy at the time."
    Waldemar Gontarski, another lawyer, told the Zycie Warszawy daily Feb. 13 that the national appeal the archbishop delivered Jan. 5 was not his own and that "not just his signature, but the whole file covering his alleged cooperation with the secret services has been falsified."
    Malecki filed a petition with Warsaw's Verification Court on behalf of Archbishop Wielgus, who resigned Jan. 7, two hours before his formal installation ceremony as archbishop of Warsaw.
    In his January 5 appeal to Catholics, Archbishop Wielgus said he had met with secret police agents on numerous occasions in the 1960s and 1970s and signed a collaboration pledge during a "moment of weakness." Malecki told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI that passages had been added to Archbishop Wielgus' Jan. 5 statement without his knowledge, including the words: "I harmed the church by the fact of my entanglement. I harmed it again when, in recent days, facing a heated media campaign, I denied the fact of my cooperation."
    He added that the accusations against the archbishop had disregarded Polish law, which requires collaboration to be established by a constitutional court ruling, and said Archbishop Wielgus also had a right to have his case partly heard in secret. "This is an absolutely exceptional situation - a member of the clergy has decided to submit himself to verification to obtain moral exoneration," said the lawyer, who has acted successfully for other high-profile clients. "I can assure you the archbishop is determined to defend his rights and present the truth about his activities in that period to public opinion."
    In December Archbishop Wielgus, who has not spoken publicly since resigning, was named to succeed Cardinal Jozef Glemp as head of the Warsaw Archdiocese. However, the Gazeta Polska weekly accused Archbishop Wielgus of having been a "trusted collaborator" of Poland's secret police, the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, for 22 years.
    The allegation was confirmed in early January by separate commissions appointed by Poland's civil rights commissioner and the bishops' conference; representatives of both said they had seen documents confirming the archbishop's "deliberate secret cooperation."
    However, in a January 9 Polish TV interview, Cardinal Glemp said the archbishop had fallen victim to an "organized media action" and urged him to take legal action.

    Former Polish foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski speaks of late “cleanup” of Poland from ex-communist agents

    Former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor and a veteran of the Warsaw Uprising, was interviewed by Spiegel Online about the center-right Polish government, dissatisfaction in Poland and its spoiled relations with Germany.
    Answering the question whether Poland neglected to clean up the former communist networks in appropriate time, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski said that the claim is true. “A great deal was neglected in the first 15 years after the transition. Poland didn't experience a groundbreaking moment in 1989. We didn't storm the secret police building. The squads of secret police, with all their political baggage, remained unscathed. Incidentally, there were far fewer of these people in our country than in East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovakia. But in those places they've managed to address this past. In those countries they've published lists of the names of the members of the secret police,” Bartoszewski said. According to him, Kaczynski brothers are right to demand that Poland finally deal with its old communists. “Interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak served in the first government under non-communist Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki - but Kiszczak had been in charge of the communists' intelligence agencies. It's as if (then-president of the German parliament) Rita Süssmuth and (former East German spymaster) Markus Wolf had formed a German government in 1990. Because hundreds of thousands of former Polish secret police employees were never sentenced, they all enjoy all democratic civil rights today, and apparently collect better pensions than teachers or engineers. Many in Poland believe they would have been better off over the last 18 years if there had been a cleanup,” Bartoszewski argued. “The Soviet army was still stationed in East Germany, and it was in Poland until 1993. The USSR wasn't dissolved until 1991, by (former Russian President) Boris Yeltsin, although he was more of an official from the old ranks. Who could have helped us? The Americans? They warned us to move forward carefully. They were afraid”.

    Polish President and PM fight former communist agents in heir own entourage

    In an analytical article of today’s Spiegel Online edition on current situation in Poland, Jan Puhl voices harsh critique of Kaczynski brothers’ policy apparently aimed at disclosing former communist agent networks. Following are several abstracts of the article.
    In their obsession to fight old communist networks, Poland's ruling Kaczynski twins have even begun probing their own ranks. But their plan to stage a "moral revolution" is dividing the country.
    The twins believe that the current practice, in which former secret police connections are examined by the Institute of National Remembrance -- the Polish counterpart to Germany's Birthler Commission, which is charged with investigating the records of the former East German Stasi, or National Security Service -- is much too lax.
    The new version of the so-called Purification Law forms the centerpiece of the Kaczynski twins' "moral revolution." The purpose of the new law is not to uncover Stasi connections or identify collaborators and informers, but rather to address and interpret the history of the last 18 years. It also seeks to determine whether the 1989 transition from communism to democracy marked a change in the system, or whether a network of former communists managed to adapt and retain power despite the political about-face.
    In the spring of 1989, dissidents managed to negotiate a bloodless transfer of power with the communists. Some would say it was a political tour de force. After all, Soviet troops were still stationed in Poland and the Berlin Wall was still standing at the time.
    But the Kaczynski brothers and the supporters of their cause say that the transition was not a coup. They argue that the communists quickly figured out how to regroup and, with the help of the country's intelligence agencies, managed to place their favorites in key positions in the economy.
    The twins hope to destroy this network of former party cadres, big business and the Mafia, thereby making good on one of their campaign promises. Not only do they have post-communist careerists in their sights, but also former members of the opposition, such as the group of intellectuals led by publisher Adam Michnik. In their view, Michnik's newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, promoted a policy of deliberately glossing over the past for 18 years, thereby enabling the communists to return to positions of power. The term the twins use for the alliance that they believe dominated the Third Republic is "the pact."
    When Stanislav Wielgus, the Warsaw archbishop-designate, was forced to step down in early January only hours before his ordination, the twins gained additional momentum for their cause. Wielgus had spent years as an informer for the former regime's secret police.
    Two weeks ago the magazine Wprost revealed that Poland's former communist rulers may have known in advance of, or were possibly even involved in, the 1981 assassination attempt on the Polish pope, John Paul II. The rumors have only spurred on those Poles who would see the country's recent past harshly dealt with.
    "The pact is a loosely knit organization led by leftists and former members of Solidarnosc," says Zbigniew Romaszewski. He claims that these people have acquired tremendous wealth in recent years and have "terribly cheated normal Poles."
    To ensure that these people are at least made to suffer in their old age, President Kaczynski proposed a special law last week. The law would require that those who were involved in imposing martial law in 1981 be demoted. This would also apply to Jaruzelski.
    The Kaczynskis have not even shied away from confronting members of their own administrations as part of their cleanup campaign. Last week, presidential advisor Andrzej Krawczyk was forced to resign under allegations that he worked as an informer for the military intelligence service in the 1980s. Krawczyk insists that he is innocent.
    Antoni Macierewicz, a nationalist politician, is the Kaczynskis' most important ally in their battle with the shadows of the past. His job is to clean up the military intelligence service (WSI), which was officially disbanded last fall. Macierewicz plans to submit his report in the coming weeks.
    The WSI's agents have been accused of all kinds of nefarious activities, including spying on and attempting to create a rift within the political right in the 1990s. The WSI allegedly employed more than 100 journalists to discredit anti-communist politicians like the Kaczynskis.
    Macierewicz is popular with the Kaczynskis, especially now that he emerged triumphant from a conflict with Defense Minister Radek Sikorski when Sikorski resigned last week. Sikorski, a worldly 43-year-old trained at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and with a flawless anti-communist record, was in fact one of the government's strongest international credentials. To protect Polish troops in Iraq, Sikorski would have needed a functioning military intelligence service, precisely the service Macierewicz's efforts have helped disband. Instead of shortening Macierewicz's leash, Prime Minister Jaroslav Kaczynski chose to allow the dissatisfied Sikorski to resign.
    The Gazeta Wyborcza has quoted an anonymous member of parliament in the Kaczynskis' party as saying that Macierewicz's victory over Sikorski was "shocking," and that the brothers' battle with the past has been reduced to personal purges while necessary government reforms are ignored.
    The heroes of Poland's 1989 radical transition are headquartered in a courtyard apartment on Marszalkowska Street. Jan Litynski, already a dissident in the 1960s, an advisor to Solidarnosc and a negotiator at the 1989 Round Table talks, opens the door. A mathematician, Litynski doesn't seem to have ever changed out of the sports coat and thick, horn-rimmed glasses he wore in the turbulent days of 1989.
    Despite having spent three years in communist prisons, Litynski has no axes to grind. "Former communist networks and secret police informers who have remained untouched to this day do exist, and we have some cleaning up to do," he says. "But there is no omnipotent 'pact' of the sort that exists in the imaginations of the Kaczynski brothers." According to Litynski, most former communists, in their roles as members of parliament, contributed toward Poland's political and economic opening to the West. Litynski wants to see the government impose a "political amnesty" so that Poland can finally find peace.
    "The twins see dark forces at work everywhere they look," complains former Foreign Minister Vladyslav Bartoszevski. Litynski agrees: "Whenever something goes wrong in Poland, the 'pact' is always blamed." Its most important function, Litynski believes, is to expose the architects of the Third Republic -- dissidents like him.
    Apparently the tactic has worked. Although the Democratic Party counts both Litynski and the country's first non-communist prime minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, within its ranks, it failed to win any seats in parliament in the last parliamentary election. And while the twins garnered only a 28 percent approval rating in recent opinion polls, only one of every 100 Poles would vote for the Democrats today.

    Late Pope's friend confirmed as secret-police agent

    Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance has confirmed reports that Father Mieczyslaw Malinski, a longtime friend of the late Pope John Paul II, did indeed collaborate with the Communist secret service, Catholic World News reports today.
    Earlier this week the radio station RMF-FM had reported that Father Malinski, who became acquainted with the future Pope in 1940, when they were members of the “living rosary” group formed by the tailor Jan Tyranowski. Malinski joined the future Pontiff in the underground seminary of the Krakow archdiocese during World War II, operated by Cardinal Adam Sapieha, and was ordained to the priesthood. He had later provided secret police with reports on both then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla and Warsaw’s Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. Father Malinski worked with the secret police over a number of years. Later on he became a prominent journalist associated with critics of the Communist regime. Malinski was a columnist for Tygodnik Powszechny, a Catholic weekly which provided a free voice under Communism, and the author of numerous books.

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    We were forced to shoot: Chief of Kosovo Polish contingent

    We do not feel responsible for the death of the two protestors, the Chief of the Polish police contingent in Kosovo, Robert Zolkiewski said, cited by the local Koha Ditore daily.

    The incident occurred in clashes between members of the radical Self-Determination movement and police authorities on February 10.
    Polish police were forced to use rubber bullets against the protestors, who threw stones and bottles at them, Zolkiewski said. We acted by the rules, no one shot in the head, Zolkiewski assured. I cannot guarantee the same about the Romanian and Ukrainian forces who were attacked much more violently, he added.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Heart Transplant Surgeon Suspected Of Murder In Poland

    A respected surgeon specialising in heart transplants has been arrested on charges of murder and corruption, the head of Poland's Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) said Wednesday in Warsaw.

    The evidence against the physician, identified only as Dr. Miroslaw G., head of the cardio-surgery department in Warsaw's elite Interior Ministry Hospital, is "shocking," CBA head Mariusz Kaminski said.

    "It turns out that Dr. Miroslaw G. is a ruthlessly cynical bribe-taker. The evidence collected in this case indicates a murder may have occurred," he said.

    Evidence suggests that last year the physician ordered life support systems to be cut off for one of his heart transplant patients after the patient's family refused to pay a bribe. The patient died immediately, according to a CBA statement.

    About 30 per cent of the heart transplant patients under the physician's care died, according to Kaminski. Taking bribes from patients was common practise in the department, he said.

    The surgeon was also charged with physical and psychological abuse of staff members, and corruption.

    Evidence collected in the case include dozens of bottles of expensive alcohol, watches, fountain pens, cutlery and thick wads of cash in various currencies.

    Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro confirmed Miroslaw G. was facing over 20 criminal charges and urged anyone who may have suffered at the hands of the physician to contact a special hotline.

    The case has cast yet another dark shadow on Poland's chronically under-funded and corruption-ridden public health care sector.

    A court in Lodz, central Poland, recently sentenced several medics to prison in the macabre so-called 'cash-for-corpses' scandal. In it, ambulance medics and doctors used the muscle relaxant Pavulon to kill emergency patients and then sold information about their deaths to local funeral homes.

    Scandal of another kind recently hit a children's hospital in the south-western city of Wroclaw where a debt collector seized 8 million zloty (2.7 million dollars) from a debt-ridden public hospital, sparking a crisis in cancer treatment for children.

    Poland's Ministry of Health intervened to ensure the hospital could pay for the expensive anti-cancer drugs needed to save the children's lives.

    Women being treated for breast cancer in Warsaw's Oncology Centre were also told earlier this month their treatment would be terminated due to lack of funding.

    Another person to face charges in Poland's soccer corruption case

    Janusz O., another suspect in Polish football corruption case, has been detained by police from Wroclaw,south-western city of Poland,the PAP news agency reported.
    "The man has been detained on charges of corruption and selling match results. Janusz O. will be brought to Wroclaw for questioning ", a police officer informed yesterday.
    Janusz O. was a soccer referee in the years 2000-2005. He refereed Poland's Cup and second division matches.
    To date 66 persons, including referees, sport officials and a higher official of the Polish Football Federation (PZPN) Wit Z., have been detained and charged in the broad scale soccer inquiry. Three of them have remained in custody.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Johnson & Johnson says improper payments were made

  • Note: If you skip to the last line, you'll understand that the payments were to made to... guess who?

    Johnson & Johnson, the drug and consumer products company, said Monday night that some of its foreign units might have made improper payments related to the sale of medical devices in two "small-market countries."

    The company also said that the executive responsible for the units, Michael J. Dormer, 55, worldwide chairman of medical devices and diagnostics, had retired.

    Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, NEW JERSEY, said that it had conducted a review of the matter and had voluntarily disclosed the information to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Certain subsidiaries, which Johnson & Johnson did not name, "are believed to have made improper payments in connection with the sale of medical devices in two small-market countries," the statement said.

    It also did not name the countries and did not offer details of the payments but said they were "contrary to the company's policies" and "may fall within the jurisdiction of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

    Today in Business
    Chrysler back in the shop for overhaul U.S. ran a record trade deficit in 2006 Advertising is creeping onto cellphones around the globe
    A company spokesman, Jeffrey J. Leebaw, declined to comment beyond the news release. "Given the nature of the situation, we have nothing further to add," he said.

    But the disclosures were unusual for a company that emphasizes its longstanding credo of ethical conduct and responsible behavior.

    The company said it would cooperate with any investigation that the agencies might undertake.

    Representatives of the Justice Department and the SEC could not be reached for comment.

    The foreign corruption law, enacted in 1977, forbids American companies from paying foreign government officials to win or influence business deals outside the United States.

    An analyst for Morgan Stanley, Glenn Reicin, said in a research note Monday night that the company's actions might help it avoid federal enforcement action.

    In a resignation letter to the company, Dormer cited the internal review of questionable payments made by some subsidiaries. He said that he had "ultimate responsibility by virtue of my position" for the subsidiaries.

    Reicin said that Dormer's "acceptance of responsibility for improper payments is a very big statement" for the Johnson & Johnson.

    "Since a company that is found guilty of a felony can be barred from Medicare programs," Reicin wrote, "we suspect that J.& J. management probably had to find a way to make it clear to authorities that this matter is being taken seriously."

    Dormer, who was named to his current position in April 2002, had been responsible for several medical units, including DePuy orthopedic, Ethicon wound care, Ethicon-Endo Surgery and Ortho Clinical Diagnostics units.

    He began his Johnson & Johnson career in 1976 as a product manager in Britain. In 1992, he left to become president for DePuy International, where he was named chief operating officer, DePuy in 1996. He rejoined Johnson & Johnson in 1998 with the company's acquisition of DePuy.

    Johnson & Johnson said that effective immediately, all worldwide businesses within the medical devices and diagnostics division would report to Nicholas J. Valeriani, who is assuming Dormer's title.

    Valeriani, a longtime company executive, will have responsibility for businesses previously managed by Dormer as well as those for which he is already responsible, the statement said.

    The medical devices and diagnostic section brought in about $20 billion last year, more than a third of Johnson & Johnson's total sales.

    The Justice Department and the SEC have stepped up investigations of suspected violations of the corruptions act in the last several years. In 2005, the Titan Corporation, a leading military and intelligence contractor, paid $28.5 million — the largest penalty imposed on a company in the history of the 1977 law — to settle charges that it bribed the president of Benin.

    In April 2004, Lucent Technologies fired four executives at its division in China after it was discovered that they might have violated bribery laws. In March 2006, DaimlerChrysler dismissed or suspended several employees after an internal investigation uncovered evidence that its executives had paid bribes in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

    In August 2003, the SEC advised Johnson & Johnson of its informal investigation under the act of accusations of payments to Polish governmental officials by American pharmaceutical companies.

    In November 2003, the SEC told the company that the investigation had become formal and issued a subpoena for information. The company and its operating units in Poland have responded to these requests.
  • Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Polish police arrest foreman after mine blast which killed 23

    Police on Tuesday arrested the foreman of a coal mine in southern Poland where 23 miners were killed in a methane blast in November, prosecutors said.

    Prosecutors charged the man, identified only as Stanislaw B., with endangering the lives and health of those working in the Halemba coal mine, said Michal Szulczynski, spokesman for Gliwica prosecutors.

    The man worked for Mard, a firm that employed 15 of the 23 miners who died more than 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) below ground after a methane gas explosion on Nov 21.

    He faces up to eight years in prison if convicted, Szulczynski said.

    The miners were attempting to retrieve €17 million (US$23 million) worth of equipment from a shaft that was closed in March because of dangerously high gas concentrations.

    The accident was the country's worst mining disaster in nearly three decades.

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    Kiwi in Polish jail 'held as scapegoat'

    A New Zealand man held in a Polish jail for a year without trial after a building collapse that killed 65 people is being used as a scapegoat to shield government corruption, a former colleague says.

    New Zealand-born Bruce Robinson was arrested after the snow-laden roof of an exhibition theatre part-owned by his company collapsed in Katowice, southern Poland, in January last year, killing 65 people and injuring more than 170.

    A former colleague has started an online petition, which has already attracted more than 1000 signatures, and is calling on the Government and public to apply pressure for his release.

    Robinson, 42, is the managing director of Expomedia, which owns 51 per cent of the building. Other shareholders include the city of Katowice and the Polish State Treasury.

    He was arrested on February 14 and has been held in prison since. He faces charges of deliberately causing the danger of a catastrophe and unintentionally causing a catastrophe.

    Eight other people, including architects, builders and the local government inspector who approved the building, were also arrested, but it is not clear whether they are being held in custody.

    Robinson is suffering harsh conditions in prison, locked up for 23 hours a day with seven other inmates in a cell measuring 15 square metres and with only one toilet. They are allowed one hour of exercise a day and one shower a week.

    Since December, he has been allowed one phone call a week to his wife and three children aged 13, six and three in New Zealand.

    His case has been taken up by two leading European human rights agencies.

    Robert Netkovski, a friend who worked with Robinson, said he was keen to start a campaign to free him.

    Mr Netkovski said the accident was caused by a construction fault, as the building was unable to withstand the extremes of heat and cold in Poland.

    Robinson was not to blame, he said. "There is a lot of corruption in Poland. The people involved in the building of the centre have needed a scapegoat."

    An online petition he began has gathered 1235 signatures in support of Robinson. It is calling for the Government to fight for his right to bail.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has said he cannot interfere in the Polish judicial process, and Prime Minister Helen Clark has refused to become involved.

    A Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman said Mr Robinson continued to receive consular support and officials were monitoring his treatment by Polish authorities.

    Mr Robinson's family say he will not flee and have asked that he be granted bail at his next hearing on February 21.

    They say he will stay in Poland to defend the charges against him and serve any sentence should the charges against him be substantiated. If found guilty, he faces eight years in jail.

    "There needs to be a pressure, a political pressure and a pressure of the masses of the people for this guy to be bailed," said Mr Netkovski, a Macedonian now living in London.

    "He went to that country with extreme zest. He made everything impossible possible. He brought a lot of heart to these people. And this is how he got repaid for all the good work he's done."

    Poland's interior minister quits

    Ludwik Dorn, Poland's interior minister, resigned on Wednesday, two days after Radoslaw Sikorski, defence minister, left the cabinet in a shake-up spurred by differences over how to run the vital ministries.

    The dismissals came as a surprise after Jaroslaw Kaczynski, prime minister, said on Tuesday that the changes he was going to make to his government would be minor. The media had speculated that the economy minister and the maritime economy minister might go.

    Mr Dorn, an anti-communist, poet and close friend of both the prime minister and his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, said he had signalled in January that he had differences with the premier over policy.

    "I told the premier I was at his disposal because I have a different opinion concerning the handling of one of the problems in the ministry," Mr Dorn said at a news conference after his resignation, without giving details.

    In spite of leaving the interior ministry, Mr Dorn retains his position as deputy prime minister. He said that despite their differences, Mr Kaczynski was "the best Polish prime minister since 1989".

    The government said Janusz Kaczmarek, Polish prosecutor-general, would take over as interior minister. Mr Kaczmarek made his name exposing corruption.

    Mr Sikorski, 42, was replaced on Wednesday by Aleksander Szczyglo, head of the presidential chancellery.

    President Lech Kaczynski praised Mr Sikorski for his contribution to the modernisation of the Polish army. The statement was interpreted as insincere because of their well-known differences of opinion regarding the management of the sector.

    Mr Sikorski is believed to have taken a tough stance during negotiations with the US on the installation of an anti-missile shield in Poland.

    Mr Szczyglo, 44, a law graduate from Gdansk university, was a deputy defence minister briefly in 2005 before he took over the job in the chancellery.

    In another surprise, the presidential office announced the resignation of Andrzej Krawczyk, an official in the presidential chancellery in charge of international problems.

    Mr Krawczyk issued a statement that the intelligence services informed the president a few days ago that he had had contacts with communist military intelligence in the past. Mr Krawczyk denied the allegations

    Collaborations with bad guys nothing new

    The recent revelation that Polish clergy sought personal advantage by working with the Communist Party is nothing new. The church has been collaborating with oppressive regimes for centuries.

    Judas was the first follower of Jesus to align himself with an evil empire. He betrayed his master for 30 pieces of silver. That triggered Jesus' arrest and crucifixion and set high the bar for treachery.

    Bishops began going along to get along with Constantine in the early fourth century just as soon as the state recognized the church. The emperor called the conference that gave the church its articles of belief in the Nicene Creed.

    The latest flap involves clergy working with the secret police of Poland's ruling government in the 1970s. Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus resigned in January. He admitted cooperating with communists in exchange for the chance to study in the West.

    The dean of Krakow's cathedral, Janusz Bielanski, resigned next. The church estimates as many as 10 percent of its priests in Poland were informers, and clergy in the Czech Republic, Hungary and other former communist bloc countries are implicated.

    Catholics by no means corner the market on political corruption. Protestant and Orthodox clergy in Eastern Europe have also lusted for the benefits of serving two masters — the church and the state it opposed.

    In the high Middle Ages, the church was the corrupt government. The Pope ruled kings and monarchs and generously sold favors. In later centuries, the church has happily linked its destiny to the blighted star of worldly governments.

    The cross came with the Spanish sword to the New World. The Protestant Church in Germany caved in to Nazi pressure in the 1930s and merged into the Protestant Reich Church ruled by Hitler's minions. That drove Dietrich Bonhoeffer to organize "the Confessing Church" loyal to the Gospel. The Nazis killed him for his efforts. The church in South America long opposed the liberation theology of its own clergy in the 1980s to support ruling parties.

    The church — like most institutions — is drawn to power. There have always been religious leaders who fail to understand that power corrupts, that Jesus abdicated power and that Paul called weakness strength. Too many still seek power and privilege where they can find it.

    They know that governments will share it for a price — the current equivalent of 30 pieces of silver.

    DNA test clears Polish deputy PM in sex row

    A DNA test has cleared Poland's deputy prime minister of allegations that he was the father of a party official's child, Polish media reported on Saturday quoting prosecutors.

    Andrzej Lepper, leader of the left-wing Self-Defence party, had been asked to take a paternity test as part on an investigations into allegations that he and a party associate recruited female workers in exchange for sex.

    Deputy Prosecutor-General Jerzy Engelking told the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza the DNA test confirmed on Friday that Lepper was not the father of the daughter of Aneta Krawczyk, a former Self-Defence councillor who is the chief witness in the case.

    Krawczyk had previously alleged that Lepper associate Stanislaw Lyzwinski was the father of her child. Lyzwinski was also cleared by a DNA test, but has since been charged with other offences in the case.

    "Aneta Krawczyk's credibility is now in great doubt," Gazeta Wyborcza quoted Engelking as saying.

    Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

    Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose three-party coalition depends on Self-Defence and the nationalist League of Polish Families for its slim parliamentary majority, had said he would sack Lepper if he were charged in the case.

    Lepper has denied the allegations and Poland's chief prosecutor said last month there were no grounds to charge him or request his parliamentary immunity be lifted.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Poland Widens Soccer Match-Fixing Probe; More Charges Possible

    By Marta Waldoch and Rodney Jefferson

    Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Poland is widening its two-year probe into soccer match-fixing, a scandal that has led to almost 70 people being charged and angered the sport's ruling body FIFA.

    The government last month suspended the board of the national soccer federation, including President Michal Listkiewicz, and appointed its own commissioner to run the game. FIFA said the move violated its statutes guaranteeing the autonomy of its associations and threatened to ban Polish clubs, including the national team, from competitions.

    ``The investigation continues and we may expect even more charges,'' Sports Minister Tomasz Lipiec said in a telephone interview yesterday. ``We will try to avoid the suspension of our team, but not at the price of resigning from our reforms.''

    Polish soccer has been in decline since the 1970s and early 1980s when the national team twice finished third in the World Cup and stars such as Zbigniew Boniek were household names in Europe. It failed to advance beyond the first round last year, while the scandal may jeopardize the country's bid for Euro 2012, the continent's top international competition.

    The host will be picked in April. Poland's joint bid with Ukraine is up against a combined tender by Hungary and Croatia, and against Italy, itself recovering from a match-rigging probe and now reeling from an upsurge in fan violence.

    Size Factor

    The Warsaw-based soccer association, known as the PZPN, says the combined size of Poland and Ukraine makes the countries an attractive market for sponsors. The population of 90 million compares with 15 million for Hungary and Croatia, and 55 million for Italy, which has staged the contest twice.

    Eastern Europe has never held a World Cup or European Championship, and the Poland-Ukraine bid upset the odds last year to make it to the final three. The Web site for the joint effort says their ``chances have been enhanced'' by the match-fixing probe in Italy and riots in Hungary in September and October.

    The Ukraine soccer federation's president, Hrihory Surkis, now accuses Poland's Lipiec of hurting their chances, he told Russian sports newspaper Sport-Express yesterday.

    Poland's latest upheaval ``doesn't help,'' Rob Faulkner, spokesman for European soccer's UEFA said by telephone. ``If Poland is suspended by FIFA, it's suspended from all competitions. It's a difficult situation.''

    That would rule Poland, facing Slovakia in an exhibition match tomorrow, out of qualifying for Euro 2008.

    `Dire Consequences'

    Incidents of match-fixing have plagued several of the sport's established powers -- including Brazil, Germany and Italy.

    The scandal in Italy, at its height as the national team was winning its fourth World Cup last year, led to Juventus being relegated and stripped of its past two titles, and another four teams having points deducted.

    FIFA and UEFA, both based in Switzerland, say it's up to them to continue the fight against corruption, not national governments. They refuse to recognize the new set-up, and last week FIFA said Poland could face ``dire consequences'' if Lipiec didn't reverse his ruling.

    ``We need the help of politicians on some things, but we can't have overt political interference into sports administration even though there's a problem there,'' Faulkner said.

    Lipiec countered that the government wasn't interfering and was just trying to ensure a new group of directors is elected for the soccer association.

    Listkiewicz asked the Sports Ministry to withdraw the administrator appointed after the government suspended the board on Jan. 19. The management offered to organize new elections earlier than planned and said it would not take any decisions.

    ``We are looking for the right formula, so that the outcome of the general meeting of the association is acceptable by all parties, including FIFA and UEFA,'' Lipiec said.

    Tomaszewski Warning

    On Jan. 30, Polish prosecutors charged a referee and a former coach of top-flight team Arka Gdynia with corruption, raising the number of people who face charges of fixing matches to 70, Polish news agency PAP said. Three have been arrested.

    Prosecutors declined to reveal which matches are under scrutiny.

    Jan Tomaszewski, the former international goalkeeper who now heads the PZPN's ethics committee, said as many as 70 to 80 percent of Polish matches might have been fixed.

    ``Even if we are excluded for one year, which may happen, we may be able to clean the football organization,'' said Tomaszewski, who pulled off a series of saves to stop England qualifying for the 1974 World Cup. ``If UEFA sees formal documents proving there was tampering, forging of licenses and match-fixing, they won't be able to tolerate that.''

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Warsaw archbishop in dramatic resignation -

    Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, who had been appointed the new head of the Warsaw Catholic Archdiocese in Poland, dramatically resigned this morning (7 January 2006), less than an hour before he was due to be installed in the city's historic cathedral.

    As reported on Ekklesia yesterday, firm findings by a church commission showed that Wielgus had collaborated with the former communist country’s secret police on numerous occasions.

    Until yesterday he maintained, against testimony from many others, that his actions were civic and had not endangered others. Earlier he had denied claims of collaboration.

    It is thought that the combination of the weight of evidence, the repeated lies that the archbishop told and the pressure of Polish and international opinion finally forced Wielgus to step down.

    Cardinal Jozef Glemp had supported him up until the last moment, but church insiders say that Poland’s hierarchy was deeply divided on the appointment, with many bishops feeling that Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus compromises and falsehoods would bring discredit on the Catholic Church.

    The news of the resignation came unexpectedly in the morning, in the midst of preparations for the archbishop's inauguration ceremony, reported Radio Polonia.

    The decision partly came about, say analysts, as a result of negotiations at Vatican level. According to some sources, it was Pope Benedict XVI personally who suggested that Archbishop Wielgus should step down.

    His concern was that Wielgus did not reveal the whole truth in his recent statements to the Holy See about his past collaboration with Poland's communist regime.

    Instead of the inauguration ceremony, a thanksgiving Mass for the work of the previous Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw, Jozef Glemp, took place in the Warsaw Cathedral at 11.00 am.

    Hundreds of supporters and opponents of Archbishop Wielgus had gathered in front of the Cathedral for the inauguration Mass. Those who wished the archbishop to step down carried banners saying "non possumus" ("we cannot allow that").

    Those who came to support the new Metropolitan interrupted his speech at the beginning of the Mass, shouting "stay with us". After the Mass, the crowds went out on the streets and marched to the Warsaw residence of the archbishop.

    Reports suggest that a reporter for Gazeta Polska, the weekly newspaper which first wrote about the church spying scandal, was physically attacked by a crowd of the Wielgus’ supporters.

    Kedzierzyn nitrogen plant is put up for sale for the third time

    The Ministry of the Treasure is again trying to sell ZA Kedzierzyn. Anwil is a potential buyer, PGNiG eyes the nitrogen producer as well. Foreign companies are not interested.

    The privatization process will be officially launched in February. Kedzierzyn needs funds for investment. Recently the state deprived it of a chance to get them when it did not let German Petro Carbo Chem (PCC) to buy the chemical producer. In the previous tender, PCC and Anwil owned by PKN Orlen fought for Kedzierzyn.

    “We have confirmed that we are still interested in Kedzierzyn”, Benedykt Michewicz, Anwil CEO said.

    PGNiG, Polish listed gas monopoly should also be interested in the company but provided it becomes investor of the other chemical producers, i.e. Pulawy and Police. Krzysztof Glogowski, PGNiG CEO a week ago told “PB” that such investment projects are possible.

    Foreign companies will probably not be interested in the transaction because they are discouraged by PCC case.

    “We are not interested in the privatization of the Polish chemical sector as long as it is so political”, Ryszard Kunicki, the CEO of Yara Poland, the world’s biggest nitrogen fertilizer producer said.

    Poland fear they may be axed from Euro 2008

    Polish soccer officials fear the national side will be axed from Euro 2008 after FIFA and UEFA warned on Monday they would take action over a row with the government.

    The trouble started on Friday when Polish Sports Minister Tomasz Lipiec suspended the board of the national football association and appointed Andrzej Rusko as a commissioner in its place following new arrests in a match-fixing investigation.

    FIFA, who resent government involvement in soccer matters, issued a strongly-worded statement on Monday saying action would be taken for what they called Warsaw’s “interference”.

    With FIFA having suspended countries over state involvement in the past, the gravity of the situation was not lost on Polish soccer officials whose team are just a point behind Group A leaders Finland in Euro 2008 qualifying.

    The other teams in the group are Serbia, Portugal, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    National team spokesman Kazimierz Oleszek said: “For now, this seems to be giving the government and Rusko some time to consider what to do.

    “As the national team, we are very concerned that FIFA may suspend us from competing. We are playing very well, we have every chance of qualifying for Euro 2008.

    “We very much hope this will not end in the national team being ruled out of the competition.”

    In their statement, soccer’s world body FIFA and their European counterpart UEFA said they were “surprised” by Lipiec’s move and did not recognise Rusko’s appointment.

    “In the coming days and weeks, FIFA and UEFA will determine what action to take in response to the Polish government’s interference, which contravenes article 17 of the FIFA Statutes,” they said. – Reuters