Friday, July 31, 2009

Poland demands Britain protects its migrant workers from race attacks

In the letter to Ann Abraham, the parliamentary ombudsman and human rights watchdog, Poland's commissioner for civil rights protection expressed his "very serious" concern about a spate of threats and attacks against Poles this month.

"Racially motivated threats and attacks against Poles seem to be more and more common in the United Kingdom," wrote Janusz Kochanowski. "Polish citizens who benefit as migrant workers from the freedoms of movement and work in a European Union country are a subject of serious concern."

While recognising that the "British police seem to be very sensitive to racially motivated crime", Mr Kochanowski urged the British authorities to do more to protect his countrymen.

"A call for preventative rather than post facto measures is rather important," he wrote.

"Being far from exaggeration I would like to bring your attention to the incidents which from the perspective of fundamental rights protection in the EU are very serious."

The letter, which was also sent this week to Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights and the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency, highlighted a number of recent incidents that have caused alarm both in Poland and among the hundreds of thousands of Poles living in the UK.

At the beginning of July, Combat 18 and Loyalist extremists were blamed for written threats delivered to the Polish Association in Northern Ireland.

"No sympathy for foreigners, get out of our Queen's country," said the text of the threat. "Other than that your building will be blown up. Keep Northern Ireland white. Northern Ireland is only for white British."

The warning has alarmed Poles and raised the spectre of attacks on a similar level to the violence that drove more than 100 Romanians from their homes in Belfast last month.

Mr Kochanowski has also drawn attention to a brutal attack carried out against 39-year-old Jaroslaw Janeczek in Aberdeen this month.

Mr Janeczek suffered serious internal and head injuries during a vicious attack, which police described as having a "racist element", by two men with pit bull terriers.

The incidents have highlighted fears in Poland that as the British economy sinks into the recession Poles working in Britain are set to face increasing resentment and hostility as unemployment grows.

Since Poland joined the EU in May 2004 over a million Poles have travelled to Britain in search of work, becoming in just a few years one of the country's largest ethnic minorities.

European Commission officials are also concerned that a backlash against East European migrants could lead to an increase in violent incidents.

"We are very worried to have seen rises in xenophobic attacks against European migrants," said an official.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dramatic situation of Polish police

Staff cuts and financial cutback will affect Polish police. There will be three thousand less police officers than previous year – informed RMF FM.

Staff cuts and financial cutback are connected with a project of the budget. According to this budget, Polish government decided to find savings in The Ministry of Interior and Administration. “It is hard to believe. We do need more officers to make our society absolutely save. This decision is like a bolt out of the blue. Everyone says that there are many vacancies in our police, because nobody wants to be a policeman. Today our government decided to end this problem. Less money means no new officers what means that our streets and safety will not be protected so effective” - said Janusz Lobuz form the police in Little Poland. “We will see it very soon, because there will not be enough policemen on our streets. It will also be more difficult to call the police because no one will be able to intervene” – added the policeman.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

3-day road crashes kill 50 Poles, hurt 703

Fifty people were killed and 703 injured in 458 road accidents across Poland that police described as the most tragic weekend so far this summer.

About 1,800 people were arrested for driving under influence of alcohol during the long weekend, Karol Jakubowski of the Polish central police headquarters told Polish Radio Monday.

During the previous weekend, Polish police registered 365 road crashes with 47 deaths and 539 injuries.

After DUI, the second reason for such a high number of road accidents and casualties in this year's holiday season is speeding, Jakubowski said.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Riot police, traders clash in Polish capital

Hundreds of riot police, some of them mounted, fought pitched battles in central Warsaw on Tuesday with traders resisting eviction from a bazaar seen as a symbol of the raw capitalism that flourished in the early 1990s.

Police closed down the city centre's main thoroughfare temporarily as they used water cannons against the protesters, who fought back with stones, bricks and sticks.

Earlier, traders had used fire extinguishers and tear gas against security guards trying to storm the red and white KDT building, which has housed clothes and shoe stalls since the free-wheeling days following the fall of communism in 1989.

The authorities want to dismantle the building and erect a museum of modern art in its place. Under a court order, the trademen were meant to have left the premises two days ago.

Warsaw's mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, said she expected those who violently resisted eviction to be punished.

"We will be pressing charges. The law must be obeyed," she told Polish television.

"The time for talks is over. There were two and a half years for that. Now I have lost my trust (in them) and without trust there can be no more talks."

Police said they had detained 12 people in the violence, in which at least 18 policemen and security guards and a large number of protesters suffered injuries.

"When the town hall official tried to enter the building to convince traders to leave, he encountered tough resistance from the traders who had locked themselves inside," said Tomasz Andryszczyk, a spokesman for the municipality.

Polish television channels broadcast the clashes live.

"Help us save our jobs! This is our whole life," said one protester.

Tradesmen waved red and white Polish flags and sang the national anthem.

The city authorities have offered an alternative venue to the traders on the outskirts of Warsaw. But they prefer the current location because it is very central, next to Warsaw's trademark Stalin-era Palace of Culture.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Head of Poland's referee training detained in corruption probe

Police in southwestern Poland detained Thursday the country's head referee trainer in an investigation into football corruption that has led to charges being brought against some 230 people. Stanislaw Z., whose last name was withheld by law, was in charge of training referees for the Polish football federation (PZPN.) The 56 year-old man was taken to Wroclaw for questioning, the Polish Press Agency reported.

The investigation into corruption was launched in May 2005 and has so far led to charges against referees, officials and members of the football federation.

The arrests come as Poland prepares along with co-hosts Ukraine to host the Euro 2012 football championships. Critics have called for the country to clamp down on corruption in an effort to bring Polish football up to standard.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rydzyk’s hotline to heaven

I have seen the future, and the future is...Father Tadeusz Rydzyk!

The restless, ultra conservative, media empire of the founder of Radio Maryja, TV Trwam, the newspaper Nasz Dziennik, a ‘media school’ in Torun and much more besides, is now moving where no restless, ultra conservative, media mogul has moved before: the mobile phone market!

It’s a logical business move. Take the loyal audience you have - and there is no more loyal a media audience - and push a product directly at them. It's a happy coincidence, too, that much of your target audience is one of the rare demographics in Poland that doesn’t much use mobile phones - the old and/or the deeply confused about modern life.

The product on offer is a pre-paid mobile phone with very big buttons, just perfect for those arthritic fingers to make a quick call to family, friends, the priest and even one of those infamous radio phone-in shows that are always on Radio Maryja, and make a quick anti-Semitic remark, or two?

For more information call 720 00 77 77. Numbers beginning with a “7”, in Poland, by the way, mean you pay.

Zloty from heaven!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sports Minister should resign, say Law and Justice

Law and Justice politicians demand Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki’s resignation after high bonuses were granted to members of the company in charge of organizing the Euro 2012 football championships.

“He’s a bad minister in a bad cabinet,” says Law and Justice’s Adam Hoffman.

Law and Justice thinks that Drzewiecki should be dismissed for his decision to grant high bonuses to the members of the executive board of the PL.2012 company, which supervises the organization of the 2012 European Football Championship. Each board member is said to have received 110,846 zlotys (26,000 euros) in bonuses.

According to Minister Drzewiecki, however, the decision on the bonuses was taken by the supervisory board, not him

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foreign companies flee Poland

Foreign investors are closing down factories in Poland and firing employees in an attempt to cut costs.

In August Takata-Patri, a spare car parts manufacturer, is going to make over 500 people redundant and move its headquarters from the western city of Walbrzych to Romania.

In October SEWS Polska, a branch of the Japanese Sumitomo concern, which produces cables for Toyota, is also planning to close down its factory in Lower Silesia and move to Romania.

Four other foreign investors, mainly from automotive industry, are considering the replacement of their factories and those companies which planned to build their plants in Poland are having second thoughts.

In 2008. direct foreign investment (FDI) in Poland dropped by 5,6 billion euros in comparison to 2007.

“Poland is no longer a cheap country for investment,” explains Marcin Kaszuba from Ernst&Young. In 2008 the average salary in Poland increased by 10 to 12 percent. A strong zloty and the possibility that the government will increase taxes are also perceived as obstacles by investors. Countries with a cheaper work force, such as Romania, have become more attractive for business. Last year the average salary there equaled 517 euros, one third of the salary in Poland, and the low flat tax and VAT rates in Romania also give it a competitive advantage..

The additional threat to foreign investors is the agreement signed with the Polish government, which says that if an employer cuts too many permanent posts, it will have to pay back subsidies, with interests.

But over a hundred companies at present have no choice but to reduce employment as a result of falling production.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Poles spend around zl.100 million on fake drugs, says WHO

Impotence medicines, anabolic supplements, diet pills, and psychoactive drugs are most often copied

Over recent years a great number of fake products have started seeping into the Polish market. Be they the latest fashion accessories, cigarettes or electronics. Now consumers have to be aware of yet another copycat product – medicine.

According the World Health Organization, quoted by daily Dziennik, Poles spend as much as zl.100 million on fake medicines every year.

The kinds of drugs that are most often copied are impotence medicines and anabolic supplements, diet pills, and psychoactive drugs.

According to the daily, despite the fact that many of the “fillers” in these drugs are safe placebos, inducing sugar, there are also some which list chemicals such as anti-freeze solutions and wood polish among their ingredients.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dead fish in Warsaw reservoir

The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate is running a series of epidemiological tests in the waters of the Zegrze Reservoir, near Warsaw, after dead fish were discovered.

The health authorities have closed down designated bathing areas in both the reservoir and the Bug river, which flows into it, on Friday, following widespread death of hundreds of fish, triggered by low oxygen levels in the waters.

No bacteriological or chemical contamination has been detected, nor any symptoms pointing to pollution of water intakes.

Experts have begun oxygenating the Zegrze Reservoir by means of special diffusers, aimed at preventing the fish from suffocating. These devices have never been employed over such a vast area, as they are usually used for oxygenating fish-breeding ponds, and water treatment plants, said Ivetta Biawy, from the Provincial Office of Mazovia.

Last week, experts disagree as to what is causing the death of thousands of fish in rivers in eastern Poland.

Recent days have seen vast numbers of dead fish floating on the surface of rivers in eastern Poland, including the Bug, Wieprz and Liwiec. Anglers consider the situation an environmental disaster, claiming that bringing the fish stock back to previous levels will take

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dinosaur egg smuggler caught red-handed

A dinosaur’s egg, a mammoth’s tusk and rock crystal were among items a Pole tried to smuggle from Mongolia to Russia and later to Poland.

The smuggler was detained at the Siberian border after customs officers had examined his car with x-ray apparatus and discovered boxes with the contraband.

The man claimed that he had been asked by his friend to deliver the boxes to Poland and did not know what was their content – which is why he did not declare the items.

Prosecutors are looking at the case and legal action will be taken against the smuggler.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Former Egyptian Ambassador to Poland detained

The former Egyptian Ambassador to Poland has been detained in Cairo after corruption allegations made against him involving a land deal in the Polish capital.

The man is accused of accepting bribes to the tune of a million zloty in transactions connected with a land deal. Polish lawyers who oversaw the sale have also been detained.

Warsaw police announced that a Warsaw-based lawyer was hired by the former Ambassador to broker the deal. “The task was carried out by Jacek M.’s office who worked together with Tomasz C.. They bought the land through a middle man who then sold it on to the embassy for an inflated price,” says Dorota Tietz, spokesperson for the Warsaw police.

The Egyptian embassy took a loss of 1.42 million euros, added Tietz, explaining that, after the transaction, Jacek M. paid then-ambassador one million zloty (about 330,000 euro).

Both lawyers have been detained in Poland for up to three months. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison and a heavy fine.

The Egyptian Embassy in Warsaw to, Monday morning, that the matter refers only to the former Egyptian Ambassador, Yehya Erlamlawaya, and a deal brokered in 2007.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Empty high schools as enrollment plummets

A number of schools in the Lesser Poland region, southern Poland, have not enrolled any students for the next school term.

In a Krakow technical high school, there are several thousand free places awaiting students. A part of the school will be closed down and several dozen teachers lose their jobs. In the city of Krakow alone, 3,500 places are awaiting students that simply do not exist.

The daily Dziennik Polski cites the demographic deficit Poland is experiencing as the reason schools are standing empty, even after the enrollment period has finished. People are living longer while Poland has one of the lowest birth rates in the EU.

“There has never been such a weak enrollment,” states Mariusz Maziarz from the Lesser Poland School Inspectorate. “In Lesser Poland, there are schools to which not a single student has enrolled and a few classes where it will be difficult to start in September because there is only one student,” added the chief inspector.

The severely reduced enrollment will lead to further closing down of schools and forced redundancy of teachers.

“The worst scenario is to close down schools. Unfortunately, the weaker ones can expect such a fate,” maintains Waldemar Olszynski from the Education Board in Nowy Sacz, southern Poland.

Not all are agreed that the enrollment crisis can be attributed exclusively to the demographic dip but point to decreasing demands and lowered standards made by technical and professional high schools.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Serious financial irregularities at TVP?

TVP spent public money illegally and will have to return millions of zloty back to the Treasury, finds an audit report into the finances of Poland’s public television.

An audit into TVP finds serious financial irregularities, Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad claimed today.

“I have turned to the court to appoint an administrator for the company, who will maintain proper supervision and will pass indispensable information [about the company] to the ministry,” Minister Grad said.

The government is going to ask the National Revenue Office to publish the audit report which, according to Grad, is ‘damning’: TVP spent public money illegally and will have to return millions of zloty back to the Treasury.

The row over TVP’s finances is another chapter in the battle for control over public media in Poland.

The opposition Law and Justice party sees the Treasury Minister’s decision as another attempt to wreck public media in Poland.

“The Civic Platform [the senior coalition partner in the current government] is determined to cause chaos within public media,” Mariusz Blaszczak of Law and Justice commented.

Minister Grad claims to have evidence against Piotr Farfal, who was suspended as president of TVP last Friday. Grad says Farfal seriously mismanaged the company and that the audit shows certain tax irregularities.

Minister Grad, told reporters on Wednesday that the fastest and best way to normalize public media is to let the new media bill - which recently passed through both houses of parliament - come into force. But this needs the signature of President Kaczynski, who sides with Law and Justice.

Civic Platform’s MP Stefan Niesiolowski, hopes that recent events in TVP will convince left wing opposition parties to side with the government in parliament and overthrow the probable veto of the media bill by President Kaczynski.

"The media bill will clear up the situation in the public media. The current mess shows best why this law is necessary,” Niesiolowski said, referring to reforms to both the way public media is financed and its administration structure.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Another footballer arrested on corruption charges

Former Poland international, ., has been detained in connection with the on-going investigation into corruption in Polish football.

The forty year-old footballer has been detained charges of corruption, which took place while he played for the second division Radomsko team in the 2004/2005 season. After the interrogation Slawomir M. was released on 10,000 zlotys bail.

During a long career, he played for many clubs, including Zaglebie Lubin, LKS Lodz, Widzew Lodz and Hansie Rostock and was a coach at MKS Orlicz Suchedniow.

Over 200 people – players, referees, officials and members of the Football Federation (PZPN) – have been charged so far for being involved in match fixing schemes since the investigation was launched four years ago.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 1000th Polish Police and Administrative Corruption post

Well, this is the 1000th post for the Polish Police and Administrative corruption page. What do you think about that? 1000 yellow stories about Poland and Polish misfits, con artists, swindlers, killers, body thieves, bilkers of old ladies, drunks, back stabbers, killers, bribe takers and of course those from the public trust and the football establishment who seem to always be ready to go the extra mile to keep things depressingly ugly in Warsaw. They say here in Belarus that Being Polish is not a nationality, it is a profession and I believe this completely. I mean, I have believed it since May of 2002 and hopefully, these 1000 stories will help convince others of the same.

Obviously, I have sort of stopped writing for this blog. I say sort of because in my heart, I am always here. Or maybe that was a bit flowery and it is just that I keep the newspaper happening and the PPAC going. But I thought to take advantage of the occasion and say a little something. 1000 is a big number. Maybe that number would have been bigger before I allowed myself this extremely bureaucratic one-story-a-day quota to fill. Once you start being bureaucratic in any endeavor, even malice and hatred, these things tend to become monotonous and inevitable. But nevertheless, it did take a while to build up a reserve of this size and in a way, I guess I could say that I am proud of it.

The reasons I seem to have stopped writing though are actually a bit delicate. On the one hand, the decision to stop had something to do with boredom and a feeling that I really and truly was wasting my time. As you might imagine, hopelessness can actually be rather depressing. But then there was also an idea that I didn’t want to get in the habit of writing about the people I was working with. I am talking here about the local education people and of course, the Pinsk police. I wasn’t thinking fear however, as I am sure everyoone’s first guess would be, but rather I was thinking more along the lines that I just didn’t want to talk about how ugly and corrupt my colleagues actually were (are). Sort of a “what you say here, stays here” stance which, probably somewhere in my delusional consciousness was meant to be an act of trust. Now however, with two full years having come and gone, I am not sure that I admire my decision on that all that much and actually, I really wish I would have taken the trouble to name a few names and spit at a few people who need being spit at. But I didn’t, and you know the page sort of died. Not the whole blog of course- I still have a steady flow of people coming through the newspaper and they do seem to be occasionally picking up a copy of the book on their way. That new stat counter by the way is reasonable close if a little low, so at least you can see for yourself what is going on. But yea, the story has become kind of lonely.

But even if I have not been writing here, this doesn’t mean I have not been busy because I have. I have been teaching English here and doing reasonably well. I have just finished a film script that I am trying to get around to showing people. I am working on picking up the pieces of a rather ugly break up with Tanya and seeing if we can keep her away from a new relationship before she kills us- her main talent in life, by the way. And of course there is thinking about next year, working on the apparently never-to-be-finished second book and, well, getting out to the beach as much as I can.

About the future though, I don’t really know. One would think that at my age I would have been dug in by now, but I don’t know that I am. I mean, I know the roads and where everything is, but I am I no way who I wanted to be when I came here. I am not saying that I wanted to be the mayor, but I did have an idea that it might be kind of cool to be a bit more in the mix socially. I have had my chances and it is not that I haven’t tried, but I don’t seem to have found the rhythm and obstacles or no, I can’t really brag about myself. I guess or I know that there is no one to blame for that but myself, but saying that doesn’t make it easier. So I am not satisfied with what I have and I need to get a bit more aggressive about making things better.

But in any case, as far as this blog goes, redundancy or no, I will keep trying and I guess I will just keep on putting out newspapers and adding to the corruption page list. I mean, I keep thinking that something will eventually give way somewhere and I’ll catch my break. I mean, have I got a story to tell yet? But even of I haven’t, maybe, if I can get back into the groove, I’ll do what I can to put out an interesting 1000 words or so a couple of times a week. I men why not? You go out of your way to make a little media spot for yourself, and hey, why not make use of it, right? I don’t really have a handle of what the theme is- maybe I’ll just leave this open for now, but I’ll see what I can do about getting some words on the screen, even if all it ever amounts to is a little mental exercise.

So this is the story. 1000 posts. That ain’t nothing. And really, it has always been about Poland and Polish corruption, greed, complicity, crime and social irresponsibility. And man, 1000 posts means there is a lot of it out there. And it’s all true. Take if from me. MY name is Adam Goodman and I am advising you NOT to go to Poland and offering 1000 reasons why not.


Hopefully, more soon…

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Londynczycy goes on a bender

Some of the crew and director of the TVP Londynczycy (Londoners) series have been arrested in Eastbourne, southeast England, for drunk and disorderly behavior.

Director Maciej Migas spent the night in a cell at the local police station. Assistant director Krzysztof Lukaszewicz and another crew member were detained as well. All three were released the following morning with a cautionary warning.

The arrests of the crew members of Londynczycy – a story of Polish migrants in London – brought filming of episodes of the second series to a temporary halt.

The controversial series has a 3 million pound budget and drew almost six million viewers when it premiered on TVP public television.

Writers of the show faced criticism after some viewers complained that storylines were full of negative stereotypes of Polish immigrant living in London – including frequent heavy drinking.

Despite the controversy, the show’s first season received an ‘Honourable Mention’ at the 2009 Hugo Television Awards in Chicago in April.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Polish fake cash pair jailed

TWO members of a counterfeiting gang responsible for flooding the streets with more than £2m of fake currency were jailed on Thursday for a total of six years.

Cezary Pleskoinos, 30, and Tony Marshall, 29, were snared after the Serious Organised Crime Agency linked them to a "sophisticated" counterfeiting factory.

Detectives who raided Pleskoinos's home in Melbourne Road, East Ham, in November seized £275,430 of fake currency. The 'cash' included £20 and £50 Bank of England and Scotland notes and 165,809 in Euros, Southwark Crown Court heard.

They also found laser printers, 3,763 sheets of A4 paper printed with £20 notes, foiling equipment and a scanner.

Prosecutor David Allan said the Bank of England confirmed that they recalled £2.186m of "same series" fakes from general circulation.

Judge Gregory Stone, QC, said: "This was a sophisticated and planned operation with the clear objective of making as much money as possible from this counterfeiting operation.

"Plainly, this operation had a significant international dimension. Equipment and paper were discovered and had it not been interrupted that equipment and paper would have led to even larger quantities of counterfeit currency.''

Pleskoinos was jailed for two-and-a-half years. The judge told the Polish counterfeiter: "You were the guardian of the premises and very heavily involved in the printing. I also recommend you for deportation."

Graham Brown, defending, said Marshall's role was limited to maintaining the premises and running errands for people "in the upper echelons of the hierarchy".

But the judge said Marshall, of Romford, had an "important role" and jailed him for a total of three-and-a-half years.

Pleskoinos and Marshall each admitted six counts of making counterfeit notes, one of attempting to make Ghanaian currency, possessing an article for fraud and one of having counterfeiting materials. Marshall further admitted making £6,000 of counterfeit currency in March, 2007.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Madonna concert "satanic" says Walesa

A Madonna concert planned on the Catholic feast day of the Assumption has been condemned as a “satanic provocation” by Lech Walesa, the former President of Poland, Solidarity leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The concert, planned on August 15, coincides with the day when Catholics celebrate the day the Virgin Mary was physically taken up into heaven.

“This looks like a satanic provocation,” said Walesa, who for most of his life has worn a picture of the Virgin Mary on his lapel. “I wear her portrait on my chest, so it's understandable I'm not happy that the concert will take place on this day,” Walesa told Reuters, suggesting that the singer should move the date.

Madonna, born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Fortin, is a controversial singer who often uses religious imagery in her music and stage design. She staged a crucifixion scene on her Confessions Tour, which began in May 2006.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Polish budget deficit continues to rise as tax revenues collapse

The government will approve the amendments to this year's budget act later today. According to data from the Finance Ministry, tax revenues will be zl.46.6 billion lower than those assumed in the act still in force.

Just a week ago the Finance Minister claimed that the figure will stand at zl.37 billion. "The loss in tax revenues is much larger than even the most pessimistic forecasts," said Janusz Jankowiak, chief economist with the Polish Business Council.

The largest difference will be recorded in VAT revenues as the number will be lower by some zl.24.6 billion as compared to earlier plans. Total revenues will be lower by zl.30.1 billion as the Ministry plans to acquire higher figures from the non-fiscal revenues.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Head of broadcaster TVP suspended

The National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) suspended the acting head of TVP, Piotr Farfal, who has led the national broadcaster since December.

Farfa? has been a member of TVP's board since being nominated by the League of Polish Families in May 2006. He has proven a controversial figure due to his past membership in anti-semitic, radical-right organizations.

Previously suspended board members Marcin Bochenek and S?awomir Siwek have been reinstated by KRRiT, with the latter replacing Farfal.

There are doubts, however, if the decision is legally binding and Farfal is threatening to take the matter to the Prosecutor's Office.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interior Ministry softens planned radical police reform

The Interior Ministry is partially withdrawing from its earlier planned radical reform of the retirement scheme for police officers. Deputy Interior Minister Adam Rapacki is expected to make an announcement to this effect later today.

Currently 100,000 police officers are entitled to retire after just 15 years of work. In 2007, every fifth police officer who decided to retire was below the age of 40. The retirement schemes for police and army officials cost the tax payers some zl.9 billion annually.

At the beginning of the year, Interior Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, announced that police officers will have to work for a further ten more years before retirement. However, pressure from the profession has forced the Interior Minister to review this move and it currently plans to prolong the period by just five years.

Moreover, it was decided that the new scheme will not include officers who joined the services after January 1, 1999, as was planned earlier, but it will only affect those who will begin working in 2011.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Drug crime up 50% y/y in first five months - Police report

Between January and May this year 32,000 drugs-related cases were initiated in Polish courts

A shocking report prepared by the Police Headquarters indicates that while crime statistics are generally falling, drug-related offenses are growing at an alarming rate, according to Rzeczpospolita.

Between January and May this year 32,000 such drugs-related cases were initiated in the courts, which is 50% more than in the same period of last year. According to a report by the Central Investigation Bureau (CBS), the number of crime groups selling drugs in Poland has grown from 85 in 2006 to 147 in December last year.

According to CBS officers, not a single day passes without an attempt to smuggle drugs into the country or a drugs dealer being caught. In addition, according to polls, some 90% of students in high schools admit that buying drugs in schools is not a problem, while prosecutors claim that the economic crisis has seen a growing number of people willing to sell drugs.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Poles spend more on gambling than alcohol

Poles prefer gambling to having a drink, spending 17 billion zloty (4 billion euro) annually in slot machines, casinos, bookmakers and lotteries.

This is more than Poles spent on medicines and strong alcohol.

The gambling market grew by 40 percent last year, and one-armed bandits were the most popular for having a flutter among Polish gamblers. In 2008, Poles put 8.5 billion zloty into slot machines, a rise of 70 percent from the previous year.

However, in the spring, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBA) confiscated several hundred slot machines, as many did not comply with basic requirements, such as the possibility to win only small amounts of money.

According to Poland’s Gambling Act, a stake in these machines can amount to no more than 0.07 euros with a possible highest win of 15 euros. However, many owners of the machines do not abide by the regulations and allow customers to play for much higher stakes, and consequently win significantly more money.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Polish Raskolnikov detained

A 27-year-old man suspected of killing his German teacher with an axe has been arrested by police.

The murder happened in the southern town of Radomsko. The young man visited his 52-year-old German teacher and after a fierce argument killed her with an axe and wounded her 78-year-old mother.

A neighbour, who heard yelling, knocked at the woman’s door to check if everything was all right. When the door opened, the neigbour saw a man with an axe in his hand. The man ran away before the neighbour managed to call the police.

The alleged murderer was caught after a driver reported that he was on board a coach going from Lodz in central Poland to Denmark. The driver had heard about the murder on the news and realized one of the passengers matched the description of the killer. The driver called the police and in the western city of Poznan the man was arrested.

The suspect, who suffers from schizophrenia, is being interrogated in Radomsko.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hitler’s tree to meet the axe?

Local government in the town of Jaslo, south-eastern Poland want to fell and burn a 67 year-old oak tree that was planted in tribute to Adolf Hitler.

A sapling oak was brought to occupied Poland by the Nazis from Hitler’s home town in Austria in 1942, to celebrate the German dictator’s birthday.

The town mayor intends to plant a new tree on the same spot and dedicate it to the victims of the Katyn massacre, when Polish officers were murdered by Stalin’s NKVD police in Soviet Russia in April 1940.

Some inhabitants of Jas?o are determined to protect the oak tree, however. They are led by Kazimierz Polak, one of the witnesses of the planting ceremony. It was Polak who brought this historical episode to light during a recent meeting of the local Town Lovers’ Society. According to him, the tree was planted on 20 April, 1942, Hitler’s 53rd birthday

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Kiosk clerk fined for not issuing a receipt for photocopy

A kiosk clerk has been fined for not providing an invoice for a photocopy she made.

Ewa Stokowska told TVN24 that a man asked her to photocopy a student card. She took the money, but her boss had asked her not to issue a receipt since they had only had the machine a short time and did not know what code such a transaction should be filed under. They planned to issue a receipt for the copies at the end of the day.

The man returned a few minutes later and announced he was from the tax office and fined the woman zl.120. Stokowska refused to pay and was fined zl.500 by a ?ód? court.

The 22 percent VAT on the service would have amounted to zl.0.05.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

One in four Polish Master’s thesis plagiarised

The number of students who buy ready-made Master’s, Bachelor’s and Doctoral theses in Poland is growing.

“At least 25 percent of Master’s theses in Poland are plagiarized,” estimates Sebastian Kawczynski from, a company that produces anti-plagiarism software.

The growing number of internet shops which sell ready-made degree theses proves that the demand for them is high. A Bachelor’s thesis, 50-60 pages long, can be completed in three weeks, a Master’s thesis, 80-100 pages long, in a month and a Doctoral thesis, 500 pages long, in half a year.

The price varies from 19 to 30 zlotys (4-7 euros) per page, depending on how difficult the subject is. Therefore, an average Bachelor’s thesis costs about 1,000 zlotys (220 euros), Master’s thesis – 1,500 zlotys (330 euros) and Doctoral thesis – 10-15,000 zlotys (2-3,000 euros). However, cheaper degree theses can also be found via internet.

Internet shops which sell degree theses in order to look credible make a reservation that dissertations they offer are not ready products but samples. Some of the shops, apart from selling dissertations, also buy them. The average prize for a Master’s thesis 60-80 pages long is 300 zlotys (66 euros).

Degree theses on demand are usually written by students who studied at two or more faculties, have a lot of interests but no job. Also free-lance professionals, such as journalists, or retired people who want to earn extra money become authors of degree theses.

For some people writing dissertations on demand is the only source of income and they earn up to 3,000 zlotys (660 euros) a month. Internet shops which specialize in writing Master’s, Bachelor’s and Doctoral theses, and employ the whole teams of “experts” are also thriving.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Poland losing war on drugs

June 26 is International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, writes Gazeta Wyborcza.

In Poland the war with drugs is in fact a battle with people. In the fight against addiction, Poland is some 30 years behind the west, with this country’s restrictive regulations and moral condemnation of addicts. The daily quotes experts who say that there is lack of adequate attitudes, help centers, information and education.

An addict only makes the headlines when his or her children die after swallowing ecstasy pills, writes Gazeta. Prisons are full of more or less addicted people whilst there are no dealers there and substitute treatment is still considered evil, while data shows that this kind of therapy has helped many addicted people.

Gazeta Wyborcza publishes an appeal to start treating addicts as sick people and not debased, immoral criminals. Addiction does not only mean drugs, it embraces alcohol, cigarettes, painkillers or tranquilizers. These people need help not condemnation writes the daily.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Poland's NecroExpo: where the Grim Reaper cashes in

This season, grey is the new black. And pale pine is in. If you're a trend-conscious undertaker looking for the latest in funeral-wear and coffins, or simply hunting for a hearse, then Poland's annual NecroExpo is where it's at.

The three-day event, which just wrapped its third edition in the southern town of Kielce, is a magnet in a business where the Grim Reaper is as much about rewards as souls.

Like any trade fair, NecroExpo has its share of scantily-clad hostesses -- but in this case they pitch high-end Italian hearses or kitsch white coffins lined with lace.

At one stand, exhibitor Grzegorz Szymanski showed off swish ensembles including ceremonial undertakers' outfits.

"Contrary to what people think, really dark colours don't dominate. Only 10 percent of what we sell is black. The rest are in greys, graphite, and so on," Szymanski told AFP.

"There's no rule saying it has to be black. Black's out," he said.

Szymanski also produces coffin-wear to make corpses look their best.

"There really isn't much difference between suits for the deceased and those for the living," he said, fingering the lapel of a smart three-piece.

"And for the ladies, it can't just be any old thing. It has to be tiptop," he added, pointing out a retro-style black and white dress.

Trends are equally marked in the coffin business, said Bartlomiej Lindner, whose family firm is Poland's largest producer, turning out 132,000 caskets a year.

"It all depends on the season. In the spring, for example, we sell many more clear colours," he said.

Lindner, whose firm exports to the German-speaking world, explained that foreign markets have quirks.

"For example, you can't sell this in France or Britain," he said, tapping a rectangular pine coffin which is the norm in Germany.

"In the trade we nickname this the 'Dracula'," he added, pointing to a elongated hexagonal shaped casket, favored in Poland, Britain and France.

Coffins range from 35 euros (50 dollars) for what the company calls, discreetly, its "Model S" -- for "social welfare" -- to 1,500 euros (2,100 dollars) for a top-of-the-range carved casket.

"Right now, given the crisis, we're probably selling more of the cheaper models. But we still sell high-end ones. It all depends on the customer's budget," said Lindner.

More than 90 percent of Poland's 38 million inhabitants are professed Roman Catholics.

While the Church has dropped old objections to cremation, habits die hard with many priests. Burials remain the norm: there are around 300,000 a year, compared to 25,000 cremations.

"The market's very competitive," said Karol Czartoryski, 24, of a family-run funeral supplies wholesaler's. "I was born into this business. I knew from the start that I wanted to do this," he added.

Poland is home to around 2,000 undertakers' firms, although some are fly-by-night outfits. Only 300 are in the national undertakers' association, which distances itself from the cowboys.

The sector's reputation was dented by the gruesome 2002 "Cash-for-Corpses" scandal, where undertakers bribed medical staff to get tip-offs about deaths, and two ambulance drivers were later convicted of finishing off patients to earn extra cash.

Poland is unusual in Europe in that the state helps with funeral costs -- the deceased's family gets a social security payout of 6,000 zlotys (1,300 euros, 1,870 dollars).

"With that kind of money, you can have a funeral with a Mercedes," said Witold Skrzydlewski, head of the undertakers' association.

His firm conducts up to 600 funerals per month, making it Poland's largest.

"Personally I don't like cremations. It's partly moral. But also because they don't make business sense. People cut corners, they don't buy flowers and sometimes don't bother with an urn but just scatter the ashes," he said.

Cremation costs around 1,500 zlotys and burial, around 2,500 zlotys, he said.

While most of NecroExpo's exhibitors are Polish, it also draws foreign players.

"I wasn't intending to go into this business," said Michael Xu, whose China-based polyester flower firm is moving into wreathes. "But in Europe I've found many people love artificial flowers, especially in countries where the weather's too cold for fresh ones."

Customers also stray across sectors, said Tomasz Bialkowski, who imports used hearses, selling some 30 a year at around 15,000 euros each.

"We had a call from a Dutch bike dealer who wants to turn one into a cycle-transporter," he said

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Polish family leave after attacks

A Polish family including a four-year-old boy have left their County Tyrone home following a spate of hate crime attacks in the Moygashel area.

Windows in the homes of Polish families were broken and two cars were damaged over the weekend.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said foreign nationals should be left alone.

"That part of south Tyrone has quite a high number of foreign nationals that have moved within the area in the last number of years," he said.

"A lot of those have integrated well into society and they're living and working within the local society.

"All those people should be allowed to live in peace, no matter where they come from."

Bernadette McAliskey, of the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (Step), which works with migrant workers, said bricks had been thrown through windows in each of the houses.

"On at least some of them a note was attached telling people to vacate their homes and leave the area, and giving them a very limited time to do so," she added.

"It is a very small area and a very close-knit community of good people, and the thing that needs to be done is that the perpetrators need to be identified, appropriately charged, tried and held accountable for their actions."