Monday, June 30, 2008

Kaczynski: ‘I saw Walesa’s file’

Former PM and opposition party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told Polish Radio One this morning that he had seen original documents indicating that Lech Walesa did collaborate with the communist secret services in the 1970s.

Kaczynski added that among the files were reports by secret collaborator “Bolek”, who Walesa is accused of being in a new book out this week.

Jarosalw Kaczynski denied on Polish Radio that it was his party of Law and Justice that had inspired writing the book by Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk on Walesa’ co-operation with the Communist Secret Services (SB) and that the historians are independent scholars and not politicians.

Kaczynski also said that at the beginning of 1990s he didn’t know anything about Lech Walesa’s contacts with secret services, but was aware of heard some allegations.

It was only after he became the head of the Presidential Chancellery, when Lech Walesa was in office that documents confirming the allegations were shown to him by the head of the Polish intelligence agency Office for State Protection, Andrzej Milczanowski.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski explained that he didn’t reveal this information back then because at that time it was a state secret.

Former President Lech Walesa denies collaboration with the Communist Secret Services. He says that the SB might have forged documents against him to discredit him after his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Lech Walesa was the co-founder of the Solidarity trade union, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and served as President of Poland from 1990 to 1995.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Agata undergoes abortion

The pregnancy of a 14-year-old girl from Lublin named Agata was ended last Wednesday when, with government consent, an abortion was performed.

The story of Agata, who was initially denied permission to have an abortion, was broken by Gazeta Wyborcza and it was originally claimed that she had been raped, although doubt has since been cast on that claim.

The story polarized the pro-life and feminist communities.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Government to clampdown on ‘politicised historical institute’?

The governing coalition in Poland wants to amend the Act on the National Remembrance Institute (IPN), accusing it of acting as a an organ of ‘political revenge’.

The political turmoil following the publication of a controversial biography of Lech Walesa, Communist services and Lech Walesa: A contribution to a Biography by two historians from the Institute of National Remembrance has inspired the government to consider making changes to the law regulating the powers of the IPN, a historical institute set up to investigate crimes against Poland during the Nazi and communist period, though its critics say that it has a radical rightwing political agenda.

Coalition politicians are said to have already commissioned expert opinion regarding a possible direction for making amendments to the existing law.

“We want to make the law more consistent, so that there are no more publications aimed at political revenge,” Stanislaw Zelichowski from the junior coalition partner, the Polish Peasant’s Party (PSL) told the TVN24 news channel.

Zelichowski refused to reveal if the new draft amendment would strip IPN of its investigative powers regarding the vetting procedure of politicians and public officials and reduce it to merely a national archive and historical research institute.

Politicians from the senior coalition partner, Civic Platform (PO), are also convinced that IPN should undergo reform.

“IPN has failed in its current form. Its role is to study history and not to pass judgments. Changes in IPN are inevitable,” said MP Grzegorz Dolniak (PO).

If a new law is to be passed by the Lower House, the ruling coalition will have to count on support from the opposition, leftwing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in order to overrule a likely Presidential veto.

“If the changes go in the right direction, we will support [the government in parliament],” Ryszard Kalisz (SLD) told TVN24.

Michal Kaminski, minister from the Presidential Chancellery, told Polish Radio this morning that President Lech Kaczynski would indeed veto any move to strip IPN of its investigative powers. He claimed that the government was the one trying to politicise the institute, not politicians loyal to Kaczynski and the largest opposition party, Law and Justice.

But the government and opposition parties from the left argue that the allegations made against Lech Walesa in the book released yesterday, claiming that the ex-Solidarity trade union leader collaborated with communist secret services, is merely an attempt to discredit him in a revenge attack by politicians loyal to the Kaczynski brothers, who, though also from the Solidarity movement, have been at loggerheads with Walesa since he was president in the first half of the 1990s..

The Institute of National Remembrance - Commission of the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN) was established by the Polish Parliament on December 18, 1998 and began to operate in July 2000. The Institute is headed by a Chairman whose post is independent of the state authorities. The IPN Chairman is elected for a five-year term.

According to IPN’s statute, its primary mission is to preserve the memory of the losses suffered by the Polish Nation during WWII and the Communist era, as well as Polish citizens' efforts to fight for an independent Polish State, in defence of freedom and human dignity.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lech Walesa was a Communist spy, says new book

Lech Walesa, the Polish shipyard worker with the trademark droopy moustache, is regarded as one of the heroes of modern Europe: the leader of the revolution that brought communist rule crashing down.

Now Poland is in uproar over an intriguing riddle: was communism actually destroyed by a communist agent? If so, why?

Two writers claim that Mr Walesa — the founder of the Solidarity movement, Nobel Peace prizewinner, former President of Poland - was a stooge of the communist secret police.

In The State Security Service and Lech Walesa, Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk make two central claims. The first is that Mr Walesa was an informer for the secret police between 1970 and 1976 under the codename “Bolek”. The second is that as President from 1990 to 1995 he borrowed his police file from the Interior Ministry archives and returned it with key pages missing.

Mr Walesa has already successfully contested in the courts that he was Bolek. His argument, backed by a handwriting expert, is that documents were faked by the secret police to discredit him with the Church hierarchy, to sabotage his relationship with the Polish-born Pope John Paul II and to influence the Nobel Peace Prize committee against making him a laureate.

Most of the documents found by the authors in the Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) are photocopies and many are unclear. It is certainly true that the secret police, the notorious SB, concocted material to compromise Mr Walesa. The short, fast-talking electrician was a profound embarrassment for the regime in the 1980s, largely because he embodied the romantic idea in the West that the Soviet empire could be brought to its knees by a simple worker.

In his autobiography Mr Walesa admits that he may have “signed something” after an interrogation in the early 1970s. There was never any possibility, he says, that he would co-operate with the SB, betraying fellow dissidents. The book tells a different story.

“We provide clear evidence in our book,” Mr Cenckiewicz says, “registration cards, memos, notes from the secret police . . . we know the secret police methods and the way that the archives and registry were run.”

Documents implicating Mr Walesa, he says, were found in other archives. “These files still had their original seals and it could be proven that they haven't been opened since the 1970s. Manipulation is out of the question.”

If Mr Walesa was Bolek, what damage did he cause? The authors say that he informed on about 20 people who were later harassed or oppressed. Oppositionist activity, however, was minimal and Mr Walesa's role in it marginal. He came to the notice of the police during riots against food price rises in December 1970. As workers prepared to storm the police headquarters in Gdansk, Mr Walesa pushed his way inside and offered the commander a deal: the workers would not attack if jailed colleagues were freed. He was given a megaphone to address the crowd. Unbeknown to him, the police were ready to shoot. The tragedy unfolded - but the police may well have spotted a useful ally.

If there was a relationship with the secret police, did it really end in 1976 (when Mr Walesa was dismissed from his workplace)? The opposition to communist rule was beginning to take real shape in 1976. Intellectuals such as Jacek Kuron formed a committee to defend sacked and persecuted workers. Informers from within the factories had never been so valuable.

The conspiracy theories go farther. If Mr Walesa continued as an agent, what really happened in the shipyard strikes of 1980? Were the police trying to engineer a change in the communist party leadership? Were there elements of the police that wanted to get rid of communism altogether?

The shadows over Mr Walesa stretch into his presidency. One of his key advisers was his chauffeur, a former SB operative. And the new book is quite solid about President Walesa's various requests for his secret files; the pages that he removed were clearly documented by the archivist. Mr Walesa's defenders say that the book is a political put-up job. The head of IPN was appointed by President Kaczynski, no friend of Mr Walesa.

“We consider Walesa to be a national symbol. He led Solidarity and remains an icon,” Mr Cenckiewicz says, “but he also worked with the secret police under the name Bolek. The truth isn't always black and white.”

— Roger Boyes is the author of The Naked President, a biography of Lech Walesa. His reporting from that period can be accessed on the Times Archive.

Rallying cry

1986, addressing a meeting of the US Congress

“We have had many beautiful words of encouragement but, being a worker and a man of concrete work, I must tell you that the supply of words on the world market is plentiful, but the demand is falling. Let deeds follow words now”

2005, at the 25th anniversary of the Polish Solidarity movement

“Freedom came, but it is still hard to get bread”

1983, in his Nobel lecture

“Let the veil of silence fall presently over what happened afterwards. Silence, too, can speak out”

1983, in his Nobel lecture

“The defence of our rights and our dignity as well as efforts never to let ourselves to be overcome by the feeling of hatred — this is the road we have chosen”

2008, after receiving treatment in hospitals for a weak heart

“It has been a long time since I have felt this good . . . I hope to work harder than ever to help people around the world. Dictators and oppressors should continue to fear me because I will be here for a long time”

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Prominent Polish politician sentenced for forging signatures

A court in Pila, west-central Poland, has sentenced Renata Beger, formerly of the populist Self-defense party, to five years probation and fined her 30,000 zlotys for election fraud.

The court adjudicated that Beger forged signatures on a list of alleged Self-defense supporters in the parliamentary elections of 2001.

Beger's trial had to be repeated after the Circuit Court in Poznan quashed the sentence passed in 2006 the court in Pila on procedural grounds.

Renata Beger is a prominent figure in Polish politics. She was a member of the Sejm, Poland's lower parliamentary chamber, from 2001 to 2007. Beger gained immense popularity after being delegated by her party to a special parliamentary committee investigating one of the biggest corruption scandals in Polish history, the so-called Rywingate. After she was accused of counterfeiting signatures, she was expelled from the committee.

Beger is not only known for political activity but also for her controversial personality. In an interview for one of the Polish tabloids she extensively described her and her husband's love life and concluded in saying that she likes sex "just like horses like oats". Her uncouth behaviour made her the object of ridicule for many stand-up comedians and singers.

She is also one of the very few members of parliament who had only primary education completed upon election. Her secondary-school leaving exam, which she took in 2004, was widely commented on throughout the country. However, Beger is probably best known for referring to the previous Secretary General of the UN as Anan Kofan.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Poland in turmoil after controversial documentary on Walesa

Lech Walesa will sue the filmmaker of a documentary about himself, Head of Polish Television and Chairman of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) for slander.

“Everybody who disseminates such tripe should be severely punished”, the legendary “Solidarity” leader and former Polish President told TVN24 television yesterday in reference to the documentary broadcast on the Polish Public Television on Wednesday.

The documentary “Secret Agent Bolek” featured, among others, the two authors of the recent book about Walesa “Secret Services and Lech Walesa. A Contribution to the Biography”, IPN historians Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, who talked about the origin of their book.

The documentary also presented comments by Lech Walesa’s former colleagues from the Gdansk Shipyard where he was employed as an electrician in 1970s, as well as former Communist Secret Services (SB) officer who maintained Walesa’s personal files.

The documentary clearly indicated that Walesa had collaborated with SB under the nickname “Bolek” and that he destroyed sections of the personal files drawn up by SB, reports TVN24.

The former Solidarity legend admitted that he had not seen the documentary, but denied any co-operation with the Communist services and said the filmmaker, Head of Polish Television and IPN Chairman would be sued for up to 20 million zlotys each for slander.

“Walesa collaborated with SB, but he remains one of the key figures of the 20th century nevertheless. No one can question that”, one of the authors of the book, Piotr Gontarczyk told TVN24 yesterday.

The historian said that perhaps the Communist services had blackmailed Walesa into cooperation although evidence for that was never found.

“We do not want to destroy the legend of Walesa. We only intend to amend his biography”, Slawomir Cenckiewicz said on TVN24.

According to an opinion poll conducted by pollster PBS DGA for TVN24 on June 19, 71 per cent of Poles do not believe that the latest publication about Lech Walesa and a debate on his past is necessary.

Some 59 per cent of the respondents to the poll said the debate on the book about Walesa would not change their perception of the Solidarity legend, while only 18 per cent were of the opposite opinion.

The official premiere of the book “Secret services and Lech Walesa. A Contribution to the Biography” is scheduled for June 23.

Lech Walesa was the co-founder of the Solidarity trade union, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and served as President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. He is one of the few Poles known all around the world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Commotion in Polish parliament

Law and Justice (PiS), the biggest opposition party in Poland, has accused the ruling coalition of limiting the opposition's rights.

At today's joint meeting of the health and justice committees in the Sejm, Poland's lower parliamentary chamber, the deputies were to receive information on the case of Krzysztof Grzegorek, former deputy health minister charged with taking a 20,000-zloty bribe, back in the time when he was still head of a hospital in Skarzysko-Kamienna, south-central Poland.

However, members of the PO-PSL coalition voted to remove the discussion concerning corruption in health care from the agenda. In reaction to that, members of PiS ferociously opposed what they see as curbing the rights of the opposition at a press conference which took place after the meeting.

"The ruling Civic Platform party promised that Poland would follow in Ireland's footsteps, meanwhile democratic standards are being violated in Poland as if it were Belarus. By hushing the opposition, one takes away one of its basic rights. And there is no democracy without the opposition", said MP Andrzej Dera, adding that the government apparently considers corruption as a matter of little importance.

Law and Justice (PiS) is now demanding Bronislaw Komorowski, the speaker of the Sejm hailing from the Civic Platform (PO), to react to this situation.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Corruption scandal rocks Polish Health Ministry

A top Health Ministry official has resigned in the wake of bribery allegations

The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health, Krzysztof Grzegorek, handed in his resignation last week and was suspended from the Civic Platform (PO) party following allegations of involvement in tender-fixing made by television station TVN last week.

According to TVN, Grzegorek took a zl.20,000 bribe for fixing a tender with medicine distributor Johnson & Johnson while working as head of an obstetrics and gynecology unit in a hospital in the town of Skarzysko-Kamienna in central Poland. The incident allegedly took place sometime between 2005 and the 2007 elections.

Grzegorek denounced TVN's accusations and has refused to give up his parliamentary immunity. "If the prosecutor comes up with concrete charges … he will give up his immunity," PO parliamentary club head Zbigniew Chlebowski told the press last week.

Grzegorek's case is a part of a much wider investigation involving 100 hospitals, which started in 2006 following the arrest of the head of a gynecology unit in a Radom hospital. The investigation is being conducted by the Central Anti-corruption Bureau, the Internal Security Agency and Central Bureau of Investigation, together with several prosecutors' offices in Poland.

Last week, not long after TVN made its accusations against Grzegorek, Rzeczpospolita reported that two Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) MPs were also under investigation. As many as 200 people may soon be accused of corruption, according to the daily.

Rzeczpospolita also reported that the state prosecutor, Marek Staszak, might have known about the evidence against Grzegorek long before the scandal broke.

Before Grzegorek's resignation, Minister of Health Ewa Kopacz declared that she "knew Grzegorek as a good doctor … a great manager and an honest man."

Grzegorek was expected to be replaced in the ministry by either Jacek Domejko, the head of a hospital in Swidnica, or PO MP Krystyna Skowronska.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Referee Webb Receives Death Threats from Polish Fans After Penalty Decision

Referee Howard Webb has received death threats on the internet after awarding Austria an injury-time penalty against Poland in last night's Euro 2008 Group B match. But Uefa have publicly backed the official's decision.

The controversial late penalty award, when Mariusz Lewandowski grabbed a handful of Sebastian Prodl's shirt and held on until they both tumbled to the deck, saw Poland lose a 1-0 lead seconds from the end against co-hosts Austria. The result means the Poles must now beat leaders Croatia in their final group game, and hope that Austria can get something out of their game against Germany. Otherwise they will be leaving their first European Championships early.

And English referee Howard Webb has become an overnight hate figure among Poles.

It is reported that football blog Soccerlens, for example, had to delete and close comments from a profile it ran on Webb, because, said the site: "The comments were full of hate and vitriol, aiming sexual abuse and death threats towards the English referee and claiming that Webb had taken bribes to give that penalty."

There are also several distinctly unpleasant anti-Webb videos on You Tube now.

However, the alternative view of Webb's action is that he took a brave and correct decision at an intense momemt of a high pressure match, and deserves appreciation for the long-overdue clamping down on one of the game's most pernicious and irritating traits: the pulling of opponents by the shirt at dead-ball situations.

Many referees would not have blown for the offence, but Webb did so.

And Uefa have backed him.

While Poland coach Leo Beenhakker was furious about the decision afterwards, Uefa's William Gaillard said: "We don't think it is controversial that a player is pulled down by the shirt and a penalty is given."

Gaillard, director of communications for the European governing body, added: "It [Webb's decision] was certainly within the laws of the game."

But Beenhakker, not surprisingly, insists the decision was incorrect, and complains that it has effectively knocked Poland out of Euro 2008.

"I've never had a problem in 43 years of being in football but this is something I cannot understand," he said. "It's impossible to accept but I am working on it. We don't have it in our own hands any more and the conclusion is we are out of the tournament."

Yet while Beenhakker also accused Webb of trying to prove he was a "big boy", Austria were unhappy with the English officials too because as Poland's goal appeared to be offside.

Uefa's disciplinary body may now take action against Beenhakker for his comments, while the referees' committee will decide if Webb and assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey will take charge of another game at the tournament.

It would be bizarre if Webb were to be effectively punished for applying the laws of the game.

Gaillard said: "The referees' committee analyses all the games and makes the appointments according to its own analyses and we don't interfere with the way they are managing officials in this tournament.

"For sure there is a better chance to referee the final matches as his national team is not there but that is a statistical chance.

"I wouldn't speculate about the decisions of our referees' committee."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sex is like heaven on earth: Polish monk

Having an orgasm is like going to heaven, according to a Polish Capuchin monk, who has set up a website to assist couples in improving their lovemaking.

Metro reports Fr Ksawery Knotz's lover's guide on gives graphic lovemaking tips and has been dubbed the 'Catholic Kama Sutra'.

It compares having an orgasm to going to heaven and recommends that men 'take care that women experience pleasure' during sex, adding that this requires 'extra efforts on the part of the husband'.

According to the Thai Indian, Fr Ksawery Knotz's service has been flooded with requests ever since he started offering tips on how to achieve super orgasms.

Contrary to common belief, the Church does not ban the pleasures of the flesh, the Sun quoted Father Ksawery, from Poland, as saying.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Canadian & U.S. Investors Mistreated in Poland

The 10th Global Survey on Corrupt Business Practices, published in May 2008 by the Ernst & Young, whose roots go back to the 19th century and to its founders Arthur Young and Alwin C Ernst, revealed that “Almost every fifth Polish company (18%) experienced an incident of corruption, which is more than double the figure reported in developed markets (8% affirmative responses). The level of corruption in Poland is twice as high as in developed countries.”

“But it is in Western Europe that 25% of companies perceive corruption as a major threat to business, while only 16% of companies in Poland share this opinion. Companies operating in developed markets have more trust in the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies (85%) than their Polish counterparts – only 54% of Polish companies share this approach. According to Mariusz Witalis, Fraud Risk Management Director of Ernst & Young Business Advisory, the survey findings clearly indicate that the awareness of threats related to corruption is not accompanied by appropriate steps taken by companies in order to implement mechanisms that would prevent the occurrence of such risks. “We realise corruption is a problem,” says Mariusz Witalis, “but we are not really sure how to deal with it.”

The recent Ernst & Young survey encompassed 1,180 senior executives from major companies in 33 countries worldwide. It was not focused on foreign companies exposed to corruption practice in the respective countries in which they were doing their business. In Poland, there is still deeply embedded a “post-Communist” way of doing business, especially when business is being made between state-owned and private enterprises. Polish state-owned companies are mostly run by politically appointed managers, who display loyalty not to their own firms but to their political parties, the state administration and also to informal political-business groups which sometimes could be simply called mafia-type organizations.

After the regime change in 1989, Poland embarked on a large-scale privatization drive. Selling state property to Polish and especially to foreign private business provided a unique opportunity to dishonest state administration officials, local government officials, some managers and political party activists to quickly enrich themselves on state property. Secret deals were being arranged, involving forced bankrupcy of some enterprises to be sold at the lowest posssible value, with bribes paid to their “privatizers.” Much have changed to better since the early 1990s, but still there are several opportunities for corrupt businessmen and officials. Their methods became more “sophisticated” but their purpose remained the same: to make quick money or to obtain positions of control over state property turned private.

Foreign business is not without blame, either. As the fight against corruption in Poland has been intensified and several special services are now involved in the investigation of these crimes, many cases of bribing officials by big international corporations and powerful foreign national firms are under investigation. These include bribing physicians, hospital managers and even high government officials by known pharmaceutical companies, suspected sales of major Polish industries to foreign firms (below their real value), and even some attempts to create “cartels” to impose higher prices of some indispensable industrial products, like cement.

Bribes are not the only problem, but corruption certainly requires “two to tango” in order to complete a dishonest deal. A link between Polish state-owned companies and foreign investors provides many such opportunities. A clear example of corruptive environment, still prevailing in Poland, could be the case of an unfinished grain terminal in the Baltic port of Gdansk, a joint American-Canadian investment.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

POLAND: Washing the Dirty Laundry

The former conservative government's abuse of the Polish secret services for ideological and political aims has left Polish intelligence in complete disarray.

Last year's October election put an end to the conservative rule of Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his Law and Justice (PiS) party in a vote comfortably won by the liberal Civic Platform (PO) of current Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Prosecutors and inquiry commissions are investigating alleged abuse of powers in various intelligence organisations as the government prepares for a thorough reform of the seemingly impenetrable secret services.

Polish secret service agencies are accused of serving partisan interests, falsifying documents, leaking sensitive information, abusing bugging devices, enticement to corruption and in general of violating internal rules.

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza claims that wiretapping increased dramatically before the latest elections, and was even applied against journalists, or doctors suspected of performing abortions.

All seems to have served the ideological purposes of the staunchly Catholic, anti-communist and anti-liberal Polish cabinet of Kaczynski.

"Their theory was that a rectangle of post-communists, secret services, businessmen and politicians intersect in the post-communist reality and, because there wasn't a proper decommunisation (ridding the state of communist influence), they have accumulated power to the extent that by working together they can control the whole state," Andrzej Bobinski, programme coordinator at the Centre for International Relations in Warsaw told IPS.

Now suspicions grow that the outgoing cabinet, which did not expect to lose, tried and is still trying to conceal proof of its activities while in power.

Only two days after losing the elections, Kaczynski issued an order establishing a procedure to eliminate Internal Security Agency (ABW) internal documents, leading to suspicions that he was opening the door for erasing evidence of illegal operations.

The tragic outcome of a particularly high-profile operation of the ABW remains shrouded in mystery.

In April 2007 ABW officers entered the home of former left-wing minister Barbara Bilda, with a camera crew waiting outside. Actions of the civilian secret services were at times televised as a public demonstration of the righteousness of the ruling camp's struggle against 'post-communist cliques'.

As her house was being searched for evidence of corruption, officers claim Bilda went into the bathroom and shot herself. No official charges had been pressed against her, and a parliamentary inquiry commission is now looking into the circumstances of her death, and the dubious judicial procedures and accusations that preceded it.

The previous government's sensationalistic actions did not end with its term, as key figures faithful to the conservative camp remain in influential positions.

Shortly after the elections, several documents on the ongoing vetting of secret service personnel were copied and moved to the Presidential Chancellery, the new political stronghold of the right. Government officials have not been allowed to see the documents at their new location, and prosecutors are now dealing with the case.

The former prime minister's twin brother and PiS member Lech Kaczynski remains the country's president.

A parliamentary committee on the secret services has recommended a drastic reduction in the activities of the SKW since it considers that the disappearance of documents endangers the lives of Polish soldiers, secret agents and informants.

PiS politicians accuse the current authorities of harassing intelligence officers and jeopardising the previous governments' achievements in ridding the secret services of post-communist and Russian influence.

This was mainly done by disbanding the Military Information Service (WSI) in 2006, as the right believed its communist-era links with Russian secret services and the fact that many Polish officers received training in Moscow posed a threat to national security.

The move, which at the time was supported by Tusk's party, is thought to have severely weakened the security of Polish troops and officials in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last October Polish ambassador to Iraq General Edward Pietrzyk miraculously survived a bomb attack on his armoured car, which many interpreted as the indirect consequence of a sudden absence of Polish intelligence in the field.

"It is believed that because they got rid of so many people there wasn't the manpower to create a service with the needed experience, which in Poland you only had if you served under the communists," Bobinski told IPS.

The PiS quickly set up the new Military Intelligence Service, recruiting also right-wing journalists, boy scouts and foresters who had received little education. The service saw record-speed promotions and in some instances a mere 17 hours of training.

Polish intelligence hit a new low in March when secret agents irresponsibly revealed their identities by posting pictures of themselves during their Afghan missions on a social networking website.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Former PM is being threatened?

Claiming that he was being threatened, the former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski applied for personal security.

"Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that he was feeling threatened, that he had been receiving poison pen letters. I have no reason not to believe him so I gave him personal security", said Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Grzegorz Schetyna in a conversation with the RMF FM radio.

Schetyna added that he did so because Jaroslaw Kaczynski's application was credible, not because he is the twin brother of the incumbent President Lech Kaczynski.

After the last year's electoral defeat of Law and Justice (PiS), Kaczynski stepped down from office as Prime Minister, after the first meeting of the newly elected parliament. He is presently chairman of the party.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Poland in an Uproar after Coercive Abortion Pressure Put on 14-Year-Old by Planned Parenthood

Polish media is awash with the case of a 14-year old girl who is being pressured into abortion by the country's most prominent abortion activist, Wanda Nowicka of the Polish branch of Planned Parenthood.

The girl, who appears in the media under the nickname "Agata", found out she was pregnant by her boyfriend three months ago. However, rather than supporting her, her family directed her to Planned Parenthood to arrange for legal permission for an abortion.

Currently Polish law does not penalize abortion when the pregnancy is a result of crime. In such cases abortion is permitted till the twelfth week of pregnancy. Agata's case was qualified for non-punishable abortion since it involved sexual relations under the age of 15. She is now 10 or 11 weeks pregnant.

While permission was being secured by Planned Parenthood, the girl complained to a teacher that she did not want to abort her child. Hospitals in her home town refused to kill her unborn child, saying that the girl seemed to be pressured into the abortion by her mother and abortion activists. A priest friend and some pro-life activists offered support to the girl and all the help necessary to carry the baby to term.

Nevertheless, Agata was brought to a Warsaw hospital that agreed to abort her baby. There she spoke to a child psychologist who advised doctors to give the girl some more time to think. Despite that, Agata was told to prepare for the procedure the following day.

At that time, the girl gave conflicting testimony. In face to face conversations with friends, she would admit to being pressured into abortion. At other times she said she wanted an abortion.

In the meantime pro-life groups and prayer groups mobilized to save the girl and her baby from tragedy. The hospital received emails from pro-life advocates urging that the girl not be forced to abort. In addition, one pro-life activist filed an official complaint with the police accusing pro-abortion activist Wanda Nowicka of pressuring the teenager into abortion. Police began an investigation and the media picked up the story.

A court in the girl's hometown issued an order to place her in the custody of a priest at a juvenile center, where she would not be harassed by abortion advocates.

Mariusz Dzierzawski of Warsaw-based pro-life Pro Foundation said that the case demonstrated how the sexual revolution takes its toll on the young, causing a chain of tragedy in their lives. "Sex educators encourage kids to get involved in 'safe sex'. When kids get pregnant as a result, they are offered 'safe abortion'. This is how they destroy the life of the unborn child and of children who become parents too early," Dzierzawski said.

Pro-life activist Jacek Sapa commented: "It's time to break the social taboo and start talking about coerced abortion. Most abortions are forced on women by irresponsible partners, parents or abortion activists. If we are witnessing coercion into abortion, we must act. Sometimes a simple gesture of support and understanding is enough to save a mother and child from the tragedy of abortion."

Agata is now safe and offers of support are flowing in from all over Poland. However abortion advocates have not given up their efforts to convince the girl to change her mind and have the abortion. Reportedly, they are arranging for an abortion for the girl outside Poland.

The pro-abortion Polish major daily "Gazeta Wyborcza", advocated for Planned Parenthood with its coverage claiming that the girl had been raped and wanted an abortion, but was harassed by pro-lifers, who "gave her hell". The misinformation was picked up by far left politicians from a minor post-communist party who attempted to garner support to legalize abortion.

Pro-life women's rights activist Inga Kaluzynska said the case also highlights the harm of clauses in Polish abortion law which remove the penalties for abortion in cases of rape. "Why are we assuming that abortion is a solution for a pregnant woman in a crisis situation? Abortion is always against women," she said. "A victim of rape deserves our help, support and care, not another trauma. Besides, it is the criminal who should pay for the rape, not the innocent baby and its mother. To allow killing the baby conceived in rape is an act of utmost discrimination based on the person's parentage," Kaluzynska concluded.

Polish pro-lifers, especially the priest involved in the case, have come under attack, having received hate mail and death threats.

The case is being seen as the latest example of an scheme often used by pro-abortion activists to have pro-life countries legalize abortion. The scheme involves seeking out the youngest pregnant girl, preferably a rape victim and using her as a poster child to legalize abortion. Similar campaigns have been organized by pro-abortion groups in Nicaragua and Colombia.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Baby born 15 times over drink-drive limit

A Polish mother who was intoxicated during labour gave birth to a baby girl who was almost 15 times over the adult drink-driving limit, police said.

Doctors at a hospital in Otwock, on the outskirts of Warsaw, called in the police after the clearly-drunk expectant mother checked in to give birth on Monday.

"A blood test showed that the 38-year-old woman had a level of 1.2g of alcohol at the time of birth," said police spokeswoman Dorota Tietz.

A level of 1.2g of alcohol per 1000g of blood is the equivalent of a bottle of wine or two litres of beer for an adult drinker, but its impact is compounded in a newborn's tiny body.

As a result, the infant was found to have a level of 2.9g, police said.

In comparison, blood-alcohol limit for drivers in Poland is 0.2g.

The mother could face up to five years in prison on charges of having endangered the life and health of her child, Tietz said.

"The baby's life is not in immediate danger, but doctors fear the impact on her development," she added.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Poland's Walesa to bring action against current President Lech Kaczynski for slander

The former Polish President Lech Walesa is intending to bring an action against the current President Lech Kaczynski, responding to his accusations in collaboration with the communist secret services, radio Ekho Moskvy reports.

The Eastern European Review marks that the war of words between Walesa and Kaczynski continues as Walesa responds to the President's accusation by saying that Kaczynski should be removed from the Government. Kaczynski said that he does not have to read the book written by two historians from the Institute of National Remembrance to know that Walesa was an agent.

According to Kaczynski, "It is obvious that in the 1980's Walesa was undoubtedly the nation's leader, which is not to say that writing the truth about him should now be filtered. A democratic society has the right to be served uncensored information, even if the truth is hard to bear." However, the Polish courts ruled that Walesa was not an agent.

Supporting the Polish Court ruling, Focus Historia magazine published, as sensational proof of Walesa’s innocence regarding co-operation with the communists, a 1974 Communist Security Services report on Walesa that said, in part, "Talks were held repeatedly with Walesa in connection to his irresponsible behaviour and utterances. However, they have yielded no results thus far."
Since the days when Kaczynski and Walesa worked together, the relationship between them has not been good. Walesa has described the Kaczynski brothers as nothing more than troublemakers who would act without regard to the long-term consequences of their actions, The Eastern European Review notes.

In a letter to Kaczynski Walesa retorts to Polish President's accusations

Former President Lech Walesa demands an apology from President Lech Kaczynski, who publicly said that Walesa was an agent of the secret police during communist times.

"The world has acknowledged my achievements and you are humiliating yourself and the Polish people," Polish Radio cites Lech Walesa’s letter to President Kaczynski. The letter is Walesa's reply to a statement made by Kaczynski during a televised interview on June 4, when he said that he was sure that Walesa was the secret 1970s communist collaborator "Bolek". Kaczynski admitted that Walesa was leading the nation in the 1980s, but this does not mean that one cannot say the truth about him.
Lech Walesa was outraged by his successor's words.

He wrote in the letter that the President violated his personal rights yet again. He reminded that Kaczynski had already lost cases in court for calling Walesa an agent. The former President demands an apology within seven days in the same television programme, otherwise he will go to court.

In the interview, Lech Kaczynski said that being a live legend should not protect anyone. According to him, Walesa's life is not free from mistakes, and the nation has a right to know the truth.

Walesa featured as "Bolek" in 1992 on the so-called Macierewicz's List of secret collaborators with the Communist regime in Poland. In 2002 it was ruled that the former president was not, in fact, a secret agent for the communists. A forthcoming book, penned by Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, two historians from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), is said to contain details of formerly unknown documents concerning Walesa's alleged contacts with the Communist secret services in the 1970s.
Lech Walesa was the co-founder of the Solidarity trade union, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and served as President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. He is one of the few Poles known all around the world.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Walesa collaborated with communists, says Polish president

President Lech Kaczynski thinks that his predecessor Lech Walesa was the secret 1970s communist collaborator "Bolek".

During an interview for Polsat private TV station, last night, Kaczynski said that a forthcoming book on Walesa shows the truth about a period in Walesa's life, which he himself knows without having to read about it.

The book, penned by Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk, two historians from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), is said to contain details of formerly unknown documents concerning Walesa's alleged contacts with the Communist secret services in the 1970s.

"This is not a faultless biography, of course. It is obvious that in the 80s Walesa was undoubtedly the nation's leader, which is not to say that writing the truth about him should now be filtered. A democratic society has the right to be served uncensored information, even if the truth is hard to bear,” concluded Kaczynski.

Walesa featured as "Bolek" in 1992 on the so-called Macierewicz's List of secret collaborators with the Communist regime in Poland. In 2002 it was ruled that the former president was not, in fact, a secret agent for the communists.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Despite corruption scandal, health minister dismissal will not slow reforms

Minister of health, Ewa Kopacz, assured today that the dismissal of her deputy Krzysztof Grzegorek on Monday due to corruption charges will not slow down or stop the preparations of the health service reform bill.

At a press conference in Warsaw on Tuesday, Kopacz said that she is determined to continue to work on the reform bill; the ministry is planning to announce the range of benefits covered by national health insurance on Thursday.

Minister Kopacz also said that until a new deputy minister of health is appointed, she will take over the duties performed by Grzegorek. She is to appeal to the PM to appoint a new deputy later this week.

Kopacz assured that she did not know that Krzysztof Grzegorek might be in conflict with the law. She stressed that fighting corruption in health service is one of her main goals as health minister.

Krzysztof Grzegorek resigned after media accused him of taking a bribe while he was the head of one of the wards in a hospital in Skarzysko-Kamienna, southern Poland. Grzegorek said that the accusations are unfounded and denied taking any bribes, but decided to resign nevertheless. His resignation was accepted on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sikorski calls Afghan politician ‘terrorist’

Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski causes scandal in Afghan media after he accuses a local politician of being a murderer.

During his surprise visit to Kabul on Tuesday, after declaring Poland's help for the Afghan army to the tune of two million dollars, Sikorski was outspoken in his criticism concerning the deeds of Gulbuddin Hekmatiar.

Sikorski is certain that Hekmatiar is the person behind the death of his friend, British cameraman Andy Skrzypkowiak. At a press conference in Kabul, Sikorski expressed hope that he would eventually be brought to court to answer fro his crimes.

Hekmatiar's name features on the list of terrorists sought by the US. He is rumoured to have ties to Al-qaeda and the Taliban, with whom he has cooperated for several years now.

At the same time, however, his Hezb-e-Islami party is getting wider and wider support in the Afghan parliament. It is also common knowledge in Afghanistan, that, despite being a war criminal, Hekmatiar is conducting on-the-sly talks with President Hamid Karzai concerning a possible truce with the Taliban.

Sikorski is the first politician at top diplomatic level to condemn Hekmatiar in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alleged rape victim testifies in political sex scandal

The court in Piotrkow Trybunalski, central Poland, will hear further witnesses in the sex scandal case in the Self-defense party.

Today the court will continue the hearing of Urszula K., who was allegedly raped by the former MP and deputy head of the Self-defense party, Stanislaw Lyzwinski,. The victim will resume testimony given on Monday during a six-hour hearing.

Further witnesses for the prosecution will also testify today.

The investigation into the Self-defense sex scandal was launched after Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza published an article in December 2006 based on the account of Aneta Krawczyk, former Self-defense member and former head of Lyzwinski's parliamentary office, now key witness and auxiliary prosecutor in the case.

The woman claims to have been offered the position for providing both Andrzej Lepper, head of Self-defense, and Stanislaw Lyzwinski with services of a sexual nature.
Lepper and Lyzwinski are now facing up to eight and ten years in prison respectively.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Post #600!
Ziobro opposes amendments to 24-hour courts

Former Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro considers the intended amendments to the law on 24-hour courts detrimental to the Polish judiciary.

Former minister of justice in the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government, now the biggest opposition party, reminded that 24-hour courts are the main tool of fighting the rampant plague of drunk-driving and football hooligans.

He added that sentences passed by these courts - directly after a crime was committed - are a just and effective punishment, as evidenced in the Polish statistics, in which the number of drunk drivers fell markedly after 24-hour courts were introduced.

State Prosecutor Marek Staszak said in a radio interview that what is planned is an overhaul of these courts, not a scheme which does away with them entirely. The amendments are intended to cut the operating costs up to 25-30 million zlotys a year.

The amendments include replacing obligatory defense with the optional type, which means that a defendant will be allowed to resign from being defended if they plead guilty right at the start of the proceedings, and abolishing obligatory detainment, save hooligans.

Staszak concluded in saying that there is no reason to keep a person in temporary detention if they agreed to serve the sentence.

The law on 24-hour courts and came into power 12 March 2007 and were intended to deal with petty crime. If a perpetrator of a criminal act liable to a sentence of not more than 5 years of imprisonment, including hooligan deeds was caught red-handed and passed over to a court in less than 48 hours from the time of detainment the case is heard before a 24-hour court which can pass an imprisonment sentence of not more than two years within 24 hours.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Another arrest in Polish football corruption probe

Polish security forces on Wednesday arrested another football person on suspicion of corruption, according to the PAP news agency the son of former national team coach Jerzy Engel.

The news coincided with the publication in Germany of an interview with former goalkeeper legend Jan Tomaszewski, who told Germany's Sport Bild weekly that "Poland is the most corrupt country in the football world."

It also comes at a time of allegedly growing fear amid the European body UEFA whether Poland and Ukraine were really fit to host Euro 2012.

Jerzy Engel Jr. was reportedly the man arrested by anti-corruption forces. He is a coach with clubs including Polonia Warsaw and third division Radomiak. Engel tried in vain to become assistant of national team coach Leo Beenhakker, who is with the team at Euro 2008.

Poland has been plagued by corruption in football with more 120 persons arrested since 2005. Referees, coaches and players have been accused of fixing matches and accepting bribes, with justice minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski 29 clubs involved in the illegal schemes.

While Beenhakker said that he will try to keep the issue away from the Euro team, Tomaszewski was not so sure, saying that players would read about the corruption in every paper.

Tomaszewski urged UEFA boss Michel Platini to take drastic action and punish all those responsible. He called for a new football leadership in the country and even said that Poland should be stripped of Euro 2012 if no measures are taken.

"If nothing happens he should take away Euro 2012 from us," Tomaszewski told Sport Bild.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Football in Poland is more corrupt than in Italy

In the run up to Euro 2008, a corruption scandal has come to light in the Polish league that rivals anything Italy has to offer. 29 clubs have already been caught up in the scandal, and 116 people implicated

In public, Dariusz Wdowczyk likes to come across as worldly wise; it goes down well with the Polish crowd. In his grey suit, the trainer also likes to chat in English. After all, as well as playing for the Polish national team, he has also represented Glasgow Celtic. A video from the Polish anti-corruption authority CBA shows him in his training kit, sitting contritely at his living room table – whilst being arrested. Wdowczyk stands accused of bribing referees during his time as trainer for Korona Kielce, fast-tracking the team's rise from the third division to the Polish premier league, the Orange Ektraklasa, but must be relegated following the accusations. Wdowczyk has already confessed. ‘It's a shame it had to happen.’

The cosmopolitan Dutchman Leo Beenhakker became the Polish national trainer after the 2006 world cup in Germany, subsequently leading the team to their first place in the European championship, which takes place this year in Austria and Switzerland. Had he not taken up the post, it would probably have gone to Wdowczyk, who instead is now one of the main players in a corruption scandal that has already implicated 29 clubs from the top four divisions and 116 individuals.

Sorry doesn’t cut it

The method is systematic. The public prosecutor's office in Breslau, which is dealing with the case, also has the football union PZPN and regional referee associations in its sights. The scandal came to the fore in Poland during the 2006 world cup. At that time, however, the rest of Europe showed no interest. After all, the corruption scandal surrounding Italy's Serie A had just become public and eclipsed everything else. In comparison, however, what was happening in Poland was much more serious.

Poland is one of the most corrupt countries in the EU, with even the far reaches of society affected. Many surgeries only treat patients once the doctor or assistant has received a little extra pocket money. In a climate like this, it is no surprise that corruption also thrives in the sporting world. Tomasz Lipiec, the former minister for sport, was arrested in 2007 under suspicion of corruption, having allegedly accepted bribes when awarding building contracts for public sporting facilities to construction companies. The proceedings against him are ongoing.

After the change of government in October 2007, Julia Pitera, the former chairwoman of Transparency International Poland, was picked to help the government as a parliamentary secretary in its fight against corruption. The only thing puzzling her is why Europe has only now expressed an interest in the subject: ‘Personally, I've been aware of the corruption in Polish football since 2001 – when dealings between referees became known. But it hasn't bothered anyone for a long time.’ She blames the Polish football association for allowing the problem to grow and endangering Poland's changes of hosting the next European championships in 2012.

The association has tried to ignore the problem for a long time, especially since some board members are themselves under suspicion. In the meantime, association chief Michal Listkiewicz, who has himself been criticised, attempted to calm the situation by expressing his regret in public: ‘Sorry! We are sorry! We apologise for not getting this problem under control in good time. This problem was just too big for us to handle. We are sorry! Perhaps we waited too long to react, but it is never too late to say sorry.’

Beenhakker's evasive action

National trainer Leo Beenhakker has more than enough on his plate with trying to keep the subject of ‘corruption’ out of the preparations for Euro 2008. After the Wdowczyk case was made public, the Dutchman expressed appropriate concern: ‘I hope, and I pray, that the people in charge in Poland can rectify the situation.’ The first eleven consists almost entirely of players who earn their living playing for foreign teams, although of course they developed their skills in the corrupt Polish league. Since Beenhakker took up his post, he has been irritated by the state of Polish football and its basis on favouritism. His first official act was to ban functionaries and journalists from staying in the same hotels as players. This came about after some players were disturbed during the 2006 world cup by functionaries partying into the night in their accommodation in Barsinghausen. On the subject of what his team, who face Germany on 8 June, could potentially achieve in the Euro 2008, Beenhakker stated: ‘If we don't advance as far as expected in the European championships, I guarantee that this will be due to poor performance on the pitch, not because someone else is pulling the strings.’

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Controversial priest closes down institute

Father Henryk Jankowski, a controversial priest from Gdansk, is to close down his institute.

According to Dziennik, the decision was made after pressure from the new metropolitan bishop of Gdansk, Slawoj Leszek Glodz, who forced Jankowski to do so after scandals connected to the institution.

Head of the Father Henryk Jankowski Institute, Ryszard Walczak, confirmed that Father Jankowski has decided to withdraw his patronage from the institution, which is to be closed down by August.

According to the daily, the Metropolitan Bishop Glodz became fed up with the ‘immoral conduct’ of the young employees of the institute. The allegations are connected to the previous head of the institution, the 26-year-old Mariusz Olchowik.

After some initial success with launching the Jankowski brand of mineral water, Olchowik became entangled in economic failures and scandals. Media reported that some employees of the institute allegedly frequented expensive brothels.

Father Henryk Jankowski was one of the leading priests supporting the Solidarity movement and fighting against communism in the 80s. Afterwards he became infamous for his frequent anti-Semitic remarks, critiques of the European Union and scandals involving alleged sexual molestation of young altar boys, although no proof of harassment was found during the investigation.

Jankowski has been involved in many financial initiatives, including launching brands of mineral water and other products the jankowski name prominent on the label. He also launched a wine with his image on the label and had plans for a vodka brand. A chain of cafes was also in the planning.

Although criticized by a large part of the Polish society, father jankowski still has numerous loyal supporters.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Polish Politician Takes on Radio Maryja

A member of the Polish parliament faces temporary suspension from his party's group after calling the founder of the controversial and ultraconservative Catholic broadcaster Radio Maryja the "personification of Satan."

A member of Poland's ruling Civic Platform may soon be temporarily suspended from his party's parliamentary group because of critical comments he made about the controversial founder of ultraconservative Catholic radio station Radio Maryja.

In an interview with the Polish daily Polska earlier this month, member of parliament Janusz Palikot accused Father Tadeusz Rydzyk of stealing money and "sowing hatred in human hearts" and being the "personification of Satan."

Radio Maryja, a nationalist Catholic radio station that wields significant influence in Poland, has been accused in the past of broadcasting anti-Semitic statements (more...) and it has openly lobbied against gays and lesbians, which it commentators depict as "sick exhibitionists."

Palikot, a proponent of gay rights, is expected to be suspended from his party group for up to three months, the Polish daily Dziennik is reporting. The head of the Civic Platform caucus, Zbigniew Chlebowski, called Palikot's statements "scandalous" and said disciplinary measures would be taken against him.

The politician reportedly said he was willing to change the wording of his remarks about Rydzyk to make them less offensive. "I was, am and hope to be proud of being a member of the Civic Platform," he told the daily Rzeczpospolita, according to the English-language Web site "I would like to remain in the party and avoid being suspended."

Thursday, June 05, 2008


MIGRANT parents are claiming 33million Pounds a year in child benefits – for kids who might not even live here.

EU rules mean citizens of other member states who work here can cash in on our child welfare system for their families back home.

A Polish father with three children can claim nearly 45 pounds a week without the youngsters ever entering Britain.

Hand-outs have soared 72% in the last nine months alone.

More than 24,000 workers from former Soviet states in Eastern Europe now claim the benefit compared with 14,000 last June.

This is yet another example of how Gordon Brown has lost control of Government spending Shadow Treasury chief Philip Hammond

The bulk of the claims are made by Poles. Nearly 36,000 Polish youngsters receive the UK allowance.

And the true cost of the payouts could be even higher than the figures reveal – because EU migrant workers are also entitled to claim tax credits for children.

The Government has not revealed how much is being paid out on those.

The benefit figures have been highlighted by Shadow Treasury chief Philip Hammond – who claimed the pay-outs made a mockery of Gordon Brown’s pledge to tackle child poverty at home.

He said: “At a time when child poverty is rising, child benefit money is being siphoned off to children who don’t even live here.

“The Government has no way of checking if these claims are genuine.

“This is yet another example of how Gordon Brown has lost control of Government spending.”

A Whitehall source said: “When Gordon Brown promised to tackle child poverty we thought he meant here in Britain, not in Poland and Lithuania.

“No one imagined he’d be giving away our money to children growing up elsewhere.”

Treasury financial secretary Jane Kennedy said the tax credit figures were “not available”.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

FBI involved in Sawicka corruption case?

Reports in the Polish media hint at the possible involvement of the FBI in the corruption case with former MP Beata Sawicka.

According to Zbigniew Chlebowski, head of the Civic Platform (PO) parliamentary club, if these rumours turn out to be true, then it would be a scandal because the law concerning the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) does not provide for cooperation with other intelligence agencies.

The daily Gazeta Wyborcza and Radio ZET reported this morning that the arrest of the former Civic Platform member of parliament on corruption charges by the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) involved the participation of the FBI.

The FBI allegedly lent the CIA a helping hand by creating an official background for a fictitious company Avantis and having one of its officers pretend to be an American businessman.

Once the Americans found out that their assistance was used in a political power struggle, they limited their cooperation with CBA, claims Gazeta Wyborcza.

Former MP Sawicka and the mayor of the town Hel, were caught red handed while taking a bribe in a 'sting' operation prepared by the CBA on October 1.

FBI allegations will be investigated, says Tusk

In a related story, Prime Minister Donald Tusk admits that he is aware of the allegations about the cooperation between the Polish Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) and the FBI.

According to the PM, the case is now being investigated.

Donald Tusk said that he will refrain for now from judging the alleged actions of the CBA head Mariusz Kaminski. He said that he will have the matter thoroughly investigated and if it turned out that the CBA has broken the law or was disloyal to the Polish state, Kaminski will be immediately dismissed.

The daily Gazeta Wyborcza and Radio ZET reported this morning that the arrest of a former Civic Platform member of parliament on corruption charges by the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) involved the participation of the FBI. According to the daily, once the FBI found out that their help was used in a political power struggle, it limited its cooperation with CBA.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Renewed riots hit Polish football stadiums

Polish football stadiums became the scene of renewed bloody riots over the past day, media reports said Thursday.

A 12-year-old boy was critically injured Wednesday evening during hooligan clashes in Warsaw as he was hit by a stone thrown by 17-year teenager.

The victim was rushed to a hospital where he underwent a surgery on his head.

Police arrested at least seven hooligans who pelted fans of the opposing team with stones following the match between football clubs Radomiak Radom and Hutnik Warszawa.

A police car was completely destroyed in the hooligan clashes.

Meanwhile, violence broke also out at football game in the eastern Polish town of Bilgoraj as hooligans stormed onto the pitch and demolished the cabin of the reserve players.

Some 41 people were arrested during the football riots.

Poland which is to co-host the 2012 European Cup with Ukraine, is facing massive problem with hooliganism and football corruption.

Polish racist groups have also used football matches to recruit supporters.

Polish football had been rocked by a series of corruption affairs over the past three years.

As part of a major investigative probe some 120 people, among them sports officials, referees, coaches and players had been arrested since 2005 for using bribes to manipulate the outcome of football games

Monday, June 02, 2008

Slow and steady, or just lazy? -PM Tusk claims his government is working methodically, following claims of laziness

On the occasion of his sixth month in power, Prime Minister Donald Tusk last week summed up his government's activity to date. According to the PM, work on reforms is being carried out systematically and the government's primary goal at the moment is to raise the standard of living in Poland.

"We've adopted eight bills [so far] in the first half of the year," said Tusk, stressing that the simplification of the law was a better indicator of his government's work than the number of bills proposed. "We have decided to follow good European examples," Tusk told the media.

"My cabinet aims above all to improve the quality of Poles' lives ... but it is doing this without revolution," the PM said.

Tusk expects unemployment to drop below 10 percent by the end of the year and GDP growth to reach 5.5 percent. The key challenge is keeping the growth of prices below that of salaries, Tusk said.

Earlier in the week, Law and Justice (PiS) chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski criticized the government and the current state of politics. In an interview on Polish Radio Jedynka's morning show, "Sygnaly Dnia," Kaczynski concluded that Polish politics was in a sorry state and that a number of current ministers were unproductive.

"The work of Minister Cwiakalski is one big scandal. We can also add these doubts to Minister Grad. And then you can multiply these doubts in regards to all the ministers, because they don't do anything. One word can be inferred here - laziness," said Kaczynski. "There's one minister that actually does something, but he does it very poorly. I'm referring to Minister Sikorski."

According to a survey by CBOS last week, around 50 percent of Poles had a positive opinion about PM Tusk's Cabinet. A poll by TNS OBOP, however, showed that 48 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with the present government and 79 percent of respondents claimed that it had not resolved any significant issue yet.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Palikot smear case continues

Polish MEP Urszula Krupa has issued a notification to the Warsaw Circuit Prosecutor's Office on alleged crimes by MP Janusz Palikot.

The notification was issued in relation with the interview Palikot gave to the Polska daily 17 May. According to Urszula Krupa, Palikot violated three provisions of the Penal Code concerning defamation of a clergyman, spreading false information, as well as propagating anti-Catholic attitudes and conduct.

To support her claim Krupa reminded the prosecutor's office that Janusz Palikot compared controversial Radio Maryja founder Father Tadeusz Rydzyk to Satan, and painted him as a thief and a person of low reputation.

According to Krupa slandering Rydzyk undermines his credibility as head of Radio Maryja and is a crime instigating hate against people of a certain religious affiliation.

Additionally, Krupa stipulated that it was not a one-off offence, as Palikot launches attack on Rydzyk frequently.

Yesterday, Palikot was officially reprimanded by his Civic Platform Party for giving the interview in which he accused Father Tadeusz Rydzyk of political ambitions, of being the 'impersonation of Satan', of 'stealing money' and spreading hate.

In a related story, Janusz Palikot, the controversial member of the ruling Civic Platform (PO), hopes that he will not face suspension by his party after accusing a controversial radio station founder of being the ‘impersonation of Satan’.

"I was, am, and hope to be proud of being a member of the Civic Platform. I would like to remain in the party and avoid being suspended,” Palikot is quoted by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.

The controversial deputy hastened to add that he was willing to change the way he worded his thoughts and avoid media coverage for some time if his colleagues deemed it necessary.

Last week head of the Civic Platform parliamentary club, Zbigniew Chlebowski, announced that he would demand the suspension of Palikot for a three month period.

The statement was prompted by Palikot's interview for the Polska daily, in which he accused Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, head of an ulra-conservative radio station Radio Maryja of political ambitions, of being the ‘impersonation of Satan’, of ‘stealing money’ and spreading hate.

The MP is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year Palikot hit the news after he made allegations that President Lech Kaczynski's had an ‘alcohol problem’. On his blog, he wondered whether the president's frequent visits to hospital were related to his 'detox therapies'.

A couple of days after posting these statements on his blog, MP Palikot apologized to the president.