Friday, October 30, 2009

Man cleared of kicking bucket

From: The News
After a year and a half, and a costly trial, a man from southern Poland has cleared his name, after being accused of kicking his neighbour’s bucket.

It took 18 months to end legal wrangling between two obstinate inhabitants of Mikowice, southern Poland over a plastic bucket worth less than 3 euros.

In the spring of 2008, Alicja I. took her neighbour, Waldemar J., to court for damaging her bucket. She told police at the time of the incident that he kicked the bucket so hard it landed on a bush outside their block of flats.

The case was referred to a municipal court.

Waldemar J. pleaded not guilty and argued that he, not his neighbour, was the injured party and claimed Alicja L. was still using the allegedly damaged bucket to this very day. To prove this, he presented, as evidence in court, video he took on his mobile phone of Alicja L. using the bucket for various activities.

The court called a video expert, who testified that it was impossible to date the mobile phone footage and could have been taken before Waldemar kicked the bucket.

Last February, after much legal wrangling, a compromise agreement was in sight. The defendant seemed to be ready to give way when he said he wanted to see the bucket to inspect it for damage: “I have not even seen the bucket, so far,” he claimed.

In April, however, Waldemar demanded that experts carry out an experiment to see whether a kick could damage a plastic bucket. An expert witness, who has written a book on plastic buckets - and after consultations with a plastic bucket manufacturer - stated that such a possibility existed.

Waldemar J.’s gamble had failed and he was found guilty by the court. But Waldemar was not about to give in and immediately launched an appeal.

This week, much to Waldamar’s relief , his campaign for justice finally ended. A district court in Opole dropped the case. “It should never have even begun,” said the judge.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Polish unemployment up, more redundancies expected

From: Polskie Radio
Between January and September 2009 about 54,000 people lost their jobs as a result of group redundancies.
The jobless rate in Poland has increased to 10.9 percent - more as mass redundancies are expected in autumn and winter.

According to the Main Statistical Office, over 1.75 million Poles do not have a job. It is likely that unemployment rate will be even higher during the last months of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 as mass redundancies are expected then, say economists.

Between January and September 2009 about 54,000 people lost their jobs as a result of group redundancies. It is expected that additional 100,000 employees will be made redundant this autumn and winter.

“Contrary to what the government says, we still have an economic crisis, not a success story,” says Andrzej Radzikowski from OPZZ trade union.

Mass redundancies will affect mainly engineering and textile industries, as well as financial institutions

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2,000 at Polish factory protest job cuts

From: UPI
Cegielski factory in Poznan
About 2,000 employees of a Polish marine engine factory took to the streets Friday to demand a halt to layoffs and a new government economic policy.

The demonstration by workers at the Cegielski factory in Poznan was organized by the Solidarity union, which played a critical role in the overthrow of Poland's Communist government, Polish Radio reported. Protesters followed the same route used in 1956 by demonstrators in an uprising.

Police said a few members of the group, including some they described as anarchists, threw stones and small firecrackers at officers and set tires on fire. They also burned a small coffin symbolizing the government.

About 500 people have been laid off at the Cegielski factory.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Newspaper report unmasks Polish 007

From: The Australian and Times online
Weronika Marczuk-Pazura says the agent set her up
THE name is K - Tomek K. It may not trip off the tongue but in all other respects Poland's equivalent of James Bond qualifies as the suavest undercover agent in Eastern Europe.

He drives a Porsche, rides a Harley-Davidson, wears Armani suits, flashes expensive dental work and seduces women in the line of duty - and has just had his cover blown by newspapers.

The 33-year-old agent, who uses multiple pseudonyms, is the most energetic operative for the controversial Anti-Corruption Agency. But now the publication of the agent's leaked details - his pseudonyms have included Tomasz Malecki and Tom Piotrowski - and a blurred photograph has put his life in danger, his former boss says.

In his most recent coup, a star in a Polish television dance show was allegedly caught out for her role as a go-between in a bribery deal. Weronika Marczuk-Pazura, a curvaceous blonde in the Bond girl tradition, has claimed she was set up by the man known as Agent Tomek. "His eyes were heavy with passion as he tried to seduce me," she said, admitting she took him to meet her parents.

Last year, Polish radio reported, the same agent had an affair with Beata Sawicka, a politician from the Civic Platform group, while investigating her for allegedly accepting bribes in a corrupt land deal.

Agent Tomek also investigated Jolanta Kwasniewska and her husband Aleksander, the former president, on suspicion of not declaring their full income.

“This man is a highly professional and experienced officer who has been conducting special operations aimed at combating organised crime and drug trafficking,” said Mariusz Kaminski, his former boss at the CBA.

Agent Tomek, a former detective, had been chosen for his acting talents and later assigned to infiltrate the world of international drug dealing. "To appear credible, Tomek had to mirror the values of the social group that he was trying to penetrate," said Mariusz Kaminski, his former boss at the CBA, fending off criticism the agency subsidised Tomek K's extravagant lifestyle.

The revelations have also stoked a debate about the limits that should be set on anti-corruption investigations. Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister, dismissed Mr Kaminski last week, making plain that he thought the agency had become politically biased.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk dismissed Mr Kaminski last week, making plain that he thought the agency had become politically biased.

The CBA, set up by Lech Kaczynski, who is now President, has been digging into alleged discrepancies in the planned privatisation of the Gdynia and Szczecin shipyards. It has also been investigating how gaming operators have been lobbying politicians in the prelude to new gambling laws. Both cases could have discredited members of Mr Tusk’s administration and scuppered his chances of replacing Mr Kaczynski as president in elections next year.

Monday, October 26, 2009

He killed a dog to know how it felt to kill

A male from Zielona Góra stabbed a dog with a knife couple of times. The animal died due to wounds. It was supposed to be a try before murdering a man.

This crime was committed couple of days ago in of Zielona Góra's parks. The man told about it to his colleagues, making it known that he wanted to know how it was to kill, so he would be able to kill a man.

Public prosecution has made an application to arrest him, but the judge decided to send him to hospital due to his poor state of health.

For killing a dog he can be locked up for up to 3 years.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The border guards warned about swindlers

Yet another swindler who pretends to be a policeman
Polish border guards informed about the swindler who pretends to be a policeman. The criminal has already swindled 400 zloty from Polish driver.

The swindler stopped Polish car and thought up a crime committed by the driver. He ordered 400 euro as a penalty, but the Pole had no European currency so gave him 400 zloty. False policeman took money and said that he would write a ticket. But he came into his car and drove toward Svidnik. Polish driver informed Slovakian police about this incident. The swindler was 30-35 years old wearing black shirt and blue jeans. He was about 180 centimetres in height. The police is trying to find the criminal.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Poland among most corrupted EU countries

No new news here
Poland is not among top nations in Europe. Unfortunately the measured value is not the GDP, but level of corruption. Poland is ranked in top three just behind Romania and Bulgaria.

According to Transparency International two out of five managers offered a bribe to public official. No wonder that Poland was ranked 28th out of 30. The situation in Bulgaria and Romania is only worse - reports

Those reports are confirmed by a poll made by CBOS. Poles think that politics and health service are the most corrupted areas of our lives. Only 4 per cent of Poles are strongly against corruption. It is not surprising as, in public view, 98 per cent of officials matters can be dealt with "an envelope"(common way to give money in Poland).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cheating rife, standards plunge in Poland’s universities

From: The News
Cheating at university in Poland is “not unusual” and many students say that they would be buy a masters thesis.

According to a survey by the PSB DGA pollsters, 54 per cent of students reveal that, in their group, cheating is not unusual, while 39 per cent of students claim that tutors do not mind cheating at exams.

Students do not refrain from buying a Master’s thesis, either. Although 80 per cent of students assure that they would never ask someone to write a dissertation for them, 11 per cent would buy a thesis for over 500 zloty (119 euro) and 9 per cent for less than that.

Despite the generally held view that Polish universities have a good image abroad, standards have been falling rapidly as numbers rise but finances to not keep pace.

Lecturers frequently skip lectures due to having a job in more than one place of learning. In one of Poland’s higher schools, students were taught by a deceased teacher who had been recorded on a video tape.

Meanwhile, intellectual potential of MA graduates has dramatically gone down because of the influx of universities, mainly private ones. Twenty years ago the number of students did not exceed 400,000, today it is almost 2 million.

However, it seems that neither university staff, nor students notice the inconvenience and the fall of teaching standards. Ninety one percent of university teachers and 84 per cent of students claim that they are satisfied with their performance and the university they work or study at. No one feels anger or shame and just a few students – 19 per cent - are bored (usually at private universities).

University staff praise themselves for being wise, talented and always prepared for the classes (95 per cent). Students largely support this opinion (87 per cent).

The survey was conducted between 9-16 October among 1194 students and 367 university teachers.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Polish nun accused of beating children in care home

Police have launched a probe into abuse allegations against Fransiscan Sisters at the special needs centre for children in Studzieniczna, in north eastern Poland.

Footage recorded by a tourist this summer, being shown on a private TV news channel, shows nuns committing acts of violence against the children in care, such as beating, and pulling hair.

The video shows an incident where one of the children took off her shoes, and, in consequence, a nun accompanying the girl picked them up, shouted and then began to beat her and tug at her hair.

The facility is home to 50 children suffering from physical and mental disabilities and disorders, including the Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism.

The local parson, Father Zygmunt Kopiczko, who visits the facility on a daily basis, has denied these allegations of abuse, claiming he would not instruct the nuns on codes of conduct. He says that violence was not being shown against the child, merely disciplinary action taken against an unruly child.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

‘Alcoholism, not tasers, killed Pole in Canada’

The death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport was not caused by a taser gun but alcoholism, claims Taser International, the company which produced the ‘lethal weapon’.

The claim comes during the court case into the death of Dziekanski in 2007, when he was hit by a taser gun while being restrained by Vancover police.

David Neave, the taser company’s lawyer, said that there is no evidence that Dziekanski died as a result of using a taser gun. Neave added that the Pole’s autopsy revealed he was an alcoholic and suggested he suffered from cardiac arrhythmia, which caused his death.

Rober Dziekanski died in October 2007 at the Vancouver International Airport. Policemen fired a taser gun at him five times in an attempt to contain him when he became aggressive.

A court in Canada is investigating the death and the use of taser guns to see if the police overstepped their power of detention and containment.

To the outrage of Polish authorities, all four Canadian policemen involved in the case were absolved.

The widespread criticism following the death of Dziekanski has led Canadian authorities to introduce new regulations on the use of taser guns. Now tasers can only be used if a person is combative or poses a risk of death of grievous bodily harm to an officer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

London not interested in Warsaw bourse

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) will not be applying for shares in a privatised Warsaw Stock Exchange, press reports in the UK suggest.

An anonymous source has told the Financial Times that Warsaw does not fit into a new strategy to be pursued by the LSE.

It had been thought that the four market giants lining up for a share of the Warsaw bourse were Deutsche Boerse, London Stock Exchange (LSE),NASDAQ OMX and the New York Stock Exchange Euronext (NYSE Euronext).

At least 51 percent of shares for the Warsaw Stock Exchange are up for grabs in the privatisation program for institutional investors.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Left wants anti corruption minister dismissed

rom: The News
Grzegorz Napieralski: Guilty as hell
The Democratic Left Alliance wants the government’s commissioner against corruption to be dismissed, in connection to the recent Black Jack and shipyard scandals.

Grzegorz Napieralski, head of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) has accused Julia Pitera, the Civic Platform commissioner on fighting corruption, of directing a campaign of intimidation against the government’s political opponets.

“Julia Pitera was supposed to fight against corruption everywhere. Meantime, she has pursued mainly Law and Justice politicians suspected of credit card fraud, and failed to investigate the Black Jack gambling scandal, in which Civic Platform politicians were allegedly involved,” Napieralski told Polish Radio this morning.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Polish football fans call for PZPN red card

From: The News.PL
Over 100,000 Polish football fans have already registered at a website aimed at expressing dissatisfaction with the Polish Football Association (PZPN).

The web site at was set up a month ago and immediately became a hit with fans calling for the abolishment of Poland’s football governing body.

At the time of writing 112,607 have registered onto the web site, which says: “Wroclaw is a city that, every few days, is host to referees, officials, PZPN, players, coaches, observers, who do not choose to go there voluntarily.”

Wroclaw is the centre of an investigation into widespread corruption within the Polish game, which has seen the arrest of up to 200 people.

Last week, the web site called for a boycott of Saturday’s march between the Czech Republic and Poland - a World Cup qualifying match that was made all but meaningless, as Poland were already illuminated from reaching the finals in South Africa next year after a poor run of games in Group 3. Poland lost the match, 0 - 2.

Janusz Atlas of the PZPN reportedly referred to the fans who tried to organize the boycott as “terrorists and hooligans”.

The fans say, however, that it is time someone blew the final whistle on PZPN.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Corruption perceptions shake more than corruption, economics just political confidence

From: WBJ
Corruption and nepotism, which had thrived throughout communist Central and Eastern Europe for decades, continues to this day.

Though attempts to unmask high-level corruption have improved, as demonstrated by the recent resignation of Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki due to evidence presented by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), the majority of graft takes place at the local and municipal levels. This has long permeated Poland’s local justice system, tax authority, contract procurement, and university entrance and grading practices.

However, unlike their Warsaw counterparts, local officials lack the required resources and personnel to address these challenges head on.

According to Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, Poland ranks 58th out of 180 countries surveyed. Among Central Europe’s EU members, it outranks only Romania and Bulgaria, two countries that have been openly criticized, even financially reprimanded by the EU for their inability to adequately tackle corruption, fraud and organized crime.

Recent events in Poland not only highlight the severity of the problem, but demonstrate that repercussions go beyond politics. Specifically, high levels of corruption negatively affect a country’s economic progress and development. For one, perceptions of corruption serve as disincentives for investors considering opening or sustaining business operations in Poland.

At a time when financial institutions and multinational firms are increasingly risk averse, higher corruption perceptions in Poland may make it increasingly expensive (and more competitive) to tap global capital markets or attract foreign direct investment.

Both the Polish government and the EU need to take a more active role working with local and high-level officials in setting clear metrics for success. Poland must require greater transparency and follow through with legal enforcement, otherwise it risks not only its political, but also its economic legacy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Polish Treasury Officials Wiretapped

From: WSJ
As political storm triggered by Polish Anti Corruption Agency, or CBA seems to be nearing end, at least for now, there are some implications that may be long-lasting.

What about the government’s very ambitious privatization agenda, if key officials in charge of privatization have their phones tapped and virtually everything they say can be leaked to the press and used in local political battles? Poland aims at over $12 billion in revenues from asset sales by the end of 2010.

“It’s likely that everyone knew that their phones could have been tapped, but nobody could expect this would be published in the press the next day,” one local government official said Tuesday.

CBA, remains on top pages of local newspapers, although public interest may start fading among indications that the agency head, Mariusz Kaminski, is leaking classified information to the press as he may lose the post any day. Kaminski, nominated by the previous right-wing government led by Law and Justice, now the main opposition party, has never hidden that his political affiliations were far from those of the current government.

Last week the Cabinet was reshuffled as Prime Minister Donald Tusk sought to minimize political damage from the alleged corruption scandal. The political storm had been triggered after a local daily published transcripts of phone conversations of a top politician of ruling Civic Platform with a businessmen friend, intercepted by CBA. Their somewhat “informal” dialogs showed that legislative process may have been influenced in an way that was far from formal. The politician was trying to assure the owner of a gambling firm that he would block the legislative process of a bill that was to impose extra taxes on gambling.

Over the weekend, new revelations from CBA hit the local press. This time, the local weekly Wprost published wiretapped phone conversations of key officials from the Treasury Ministry, which in Poland is responsible for privatization. Dialogs concerned a recently failed tender to sell local shipyards to a Qatari fund. This time, putting “linguistic” color aside, the transcripts are unlikley to trigger any charges, local media say

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Polish hooligans to riot at Czech match?

From: Polish Radio
Hoardes of Polish football fans expected in Prague
Czech media is warning citizens against the hoardes of Polish football fans expected in Prague for Saturday's World Cup qualifying match.

A leading Czech newspaper, Lidove Noviny, reports that Polish fans are renowned throughout Europe for having a particularly rowdy and unsavoury reputation.

“From a safety point of view, this will be the most demanding match our team has seen in a few years,” Miroslav Platil, head of security for the Czech Football Federation, adding that the Federation has been preparing extra security measures for almost two months.

Lidove Noviny writes as well that, wherever Polish football fans appear, there always seems to be run-in with police and with fans from other teams.

“In the majority of European countries, football-related violence happens away from the stadium. Not in Poland,” claims the daily. The paper adds, however, that Polish hooligans tend to lash out in violence, despite efforts by Polish football clubs, teams and the Polish Football Association to curb such actions. Czech sports channels have been airing footage of Polish hooligan violence – particularly focusing on the riots that broke out in Belfast, Northern Ireland, earlier this year.

Police and security services have been preparing to secure the stadium and surrounding areas in Prague before the match.

“The operation has two elements – internal and external. The first concerns security in Prague, while the second focuses on security throughout the Czech Republic. We are dispatching police in civilian clothing to many cities around the country. We are working closely with Polish police and are hoping to detain many hooligans at the border,” Martin Synecky, security specialist in the Czech National Police department, is quoted as explaining in the paper.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gambling Scandal Fallout Continues In Poland

From: Casino Gambling Web
Andrzej Czuma
Government officials trying to lighten the load on casinos in Poland is now an international story and late this week the fallout from that scandal continued. Four top ranking officials have all been removed from their jobs.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk cleaned house this week, removing Andrzej Czuma, the Justice Minister, and Grzegorz Schetyna, the Interior and Deputy Prime Minister from their jobs. Two more officials followed in losing their jobs in the government shortly after.

Recent events related to the gambling act raise justified doubts among Poles," said Prime Minister Tusk, "For the government to work in an atmosphere of trust and impartiality, my colleagues and I want to do everything to convince Poles, but also our opponents, about our impartiality."

Word spread earlier this week of how government officials tried to stop the gambling bill that would have raised taxes on the casino gaming industry. Those government officials had ties to the industry, and many believe they were protecting the interests of the casinos.

Deputy Economy Minister Adam Szejnfeld submitted his resignation and perhaps the biggest firing came at the hands of Mariusz Kaminski, head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau. He is accused of forging documents in 2007 and overstepping the boundaries of his position.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

EXCLUSIVE Michal Kaminski: 'I'm no antisemite'

I think that it’s unfair comparing Jedwabne with Nazi crimes and putting it with the same level as the Nazi policy.
Michal Kaminski
When I finally interview Michal Kaminski he is looking extremely flustered, not to say hounded, by the attention he has received during his flying visit to Conservative Party conference. The controversial leader of David Cameron’s new allies in the European Parliament has been chased into a fringe meeting by a woman from Channel 4 and to the doors of a lunch hosted by Conservative Friends of Israel. Allegations about his far-right past have quite literally pursued him to a suite at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

Here it is that the 37-year-old head of the new European Conservatives and Reformists grouping has chosen to explain his controversial past statements, which range from the Holocaust and the role of Jewish partisans in the Soviet occupation, to General Pinochet and homosexuality.

In his only interview with a British newspaper, he says he welcomes the opportunity to reassure readers of the JC that he is no antisemite.“If you grew up in Poland, if you saw the traces of the Holocaust in my country, the accusation of being an antisemite is, I think, really hard,” he says. “Being an antisemite is something which is contradictory to all my beliefs, starting with my religious beliefs as a Christian and ending with my political conservative views.” He adds that he considers that western civilisation is essentially Judeo-Christian and therefore “created to a big extent by Jews”.

Mr Kaminski says that he understands the concerns raised by some of the allegations against him. His colourful CV has already caused acute embarrassment to the Conservative Party and provided ammunition to those who say Cameron has rejected the mainstream centre-right in Europe in favour of a rag-tag bunch of apologists for fascism. At the same time, his robust support for Israel provides Anglo-Jews with a dilemma. His status as guest of honour at the CFI lunch demonstrates the level of trust he commands among leading Jewish Tories. His visit to Israel last month saw him welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

But how does this square with Mr Kaminski’s political beginnings with the far-right National Revival of Poland party (NOP)? The party he joined as a teenager is said to have pledged that “Jews will be removed from Poland and their possessions confiscated”. His response is that he was just 15 when he joined the NOP in 1987 when it was still an underground movement. Two years later it merged into the mainstream Conservative Christian National Union. “It was for me the first available option to join the anti-Communist movement and when I was 17 I left this group,” he says, adding that there was no evidence of a neo-fascist tendency at the time. “When I was a member of them, I don’t remember. Maybe you will find that someone will… but as far as I know it was a party which was Catholic and nationalist-orientated.”

Mr Kaminski himself raises the issue of Jedwabne, a town in the north-east of Poland which was the site of a massacre of hundreds of its Jewish inhabitants in July 1941 by a mob of Poles. Sixty years later, the then Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski issued an apology for the atrocity, but the issue was hugely divisive. As the deputy in the Polish parliament responsible for the area, Mr Kaminski expressed his opposition to a generalised apology, a decision he stands by.“

From the very beginning I was saying as a human being, as a Pole, that Jedwabne was a terrible crime, unfortunately committed by the Polish people. My point was from the very start: we are ashamed of these people, we have to condemn them, we have to judge them if they are still alive. But I don’t want to take the whole responsibility for this crime for the whole Polish nation.”

He adds that he doesn’t believe the Jedwabne massacre should be classified on the same level as the Holocaust. “I think that it’s unfair comparing it with Nazi crimes and putting it with the same level as the Nazi policy.”

More difficult for Mr Kaminski (and potentially Mr Cameron) is the suggestion that the Polish politician claimed no apology should be made until Jews apologised for alleged Jewish crimes of collaboration with the Soviet Union. His answer is ingenious. He says that asking the Poles as a whole to apologise for Jedwabne would make as much sense as asking the Jews to apologise for alleged Jewish involvement in Communist crimes. It is a theme to which he returns later in the interview: “My position is that there were acts of collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet army when the Soviet army came to Poland. It’s a fact. It’s a historical fact… If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland.”

I ask him about an interview he gave to the ultra-nationalist Polish newspaper Nacza Polska at the time of the apology, when he is alleged to have said he would only apologise for Jedwabne when “someone from the Jewish side will apologise for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941, for the mass collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet occupier.” He claims he does not remember giving the interview. Does he recognise the words as his? “I absolutely do not recognise them. It was nine years ago.” He adds that official statements at the time made his position on the matter clear. I ask him about his use of the slogan “Poland is for the Poles”, which is said to have associations with pre-war Polish ultra-nationalism. He says he had been referring to Poland’s corruption scandals of 2000 when the new democracy was seriously under threat. “We have to give Poland to Poles but….not in a racial or nationalistic sense but in terms of democracy. We want to give back Polish democracy to the Poles, to the citizens.”

I ask him to clarify claims that he expressed pride in wearing the Chrobry sword, the symbol of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Catholic totalitarian group formed in 1935. He issues a categorical denial: “No, I never wear it. I don’t even know which symbol you are referring to. [Mr Kaminski later clarified his position, claiming he had in fact worn the symbol]

”There is no doubt there has been a concerted attempt by David Cameron’s political enemies to discredit Mr Kaminski. But there are areas of his own political biography where he admits he made serious errors of judgment. In 1999, he visited the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London, an event he described as “the most important moment of my whole life”. He later made a statement to the Polish parliament saying he regretted his actions. He says: “I think I made a mistake visiting Pinochet. A decent politician should have the courage to admit the mistake”.

I wonder if he thinks it was also a mistake to have described homosexuals as “pedaly”, a derogatory term akin to “shirt-lifters”. Again he admits an error of judgement. “I said I would never use these words again. But please remember it was a word used commonly by Polish politicians about homosexuals. “Since I discovered that this word was offensive in the eyes of homosexuals, I never used it again.”As we end the interview he talks of his pride at heading up the new conservative grouping in the European parliament and his great respect for British Conservatism. But Mr Kaminski cannot have imagined that he would end up as such a controversial figure for the party that has inspired his politics for so long.

The creation of the ECR has been a huge risk for David Cameron, brought about because he needed to provide some “red meat” to the Eurosceptics in his party. In the final irony, though, it turns out that Mr Kaminski is himself an enthusiastic Europhile who has embraced the Lisbon Treaty so hated by the right-wing of the British Conservative Party. “I was on the side of those who were in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. It is well known in Poland. It is not a secret,” he says. I apologise that so much of the interview has been taken up by allegations from Mr Kaminski’s political enemies. To his credit he says that it has been important to answer his critics.

UPDATE: Mr Kaminski made the following statement to the JC on Friday:

"I did wear the sword, which was used around a millennia ago to crown Polish Kings, on my lapel on occasions. After 1989 it was used as one of the symbols of the Christian National Union and many Conservative politicians would wear it, including politicians now in the Civic Platform. In recent years it has been taken as a symbol by the Far Right. Although it is not the same, there are similarities with how the BNP in Britainhas taken the Union Jack as their symbol. When I felt the symbol started having this meaning I stopped wearing it and I asked the rest of my party to stop too."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Polish anti-corruption chief faces charges

From: AP
Mariusz Kaminski: Guilty as hell
The head of Poland's anti-corruption office was charged with abuse of power Tuesday after a sting operation in which he encouraged his agents to fabricate documents and offer bribes, prosecutors said.

The official, Mariusz Kaminski, said the charge was baseless and he would prove his innocence if the case went to trial.

Officials have said that undercover agents offered two businessmen 3 million zlotys ($1 million) to participate in a sting operation in which they would use their close ties with Agriculture Ministry officials to get farmland improperly rezoned for development.

The then-agriculture minister was fired after two officials at his ministry were arrested in the operation.

If convicted, Kaminski could face up to eight years in prison.

Kaminski's office was created in 2006 by the government of then-Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is now Poland's opposition leader. It is supposed to root out corruption in national and local government.

Poland's sports minister resigned Monday over allegations he illegally tried to influence a new gambling law.

Miroslaw Drzewiecki announced his decision to step down at a news conference after Rzeczpospolita newspaper last week published transcripts of tapped telephone conversations in which a gambling parlor owner is allegedly heard lobbying a governing party lawmaker to block plans for casino taxes and mentions Drzewiecki as someone who could help.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Polish PM to sack deputy, justice minister-source

From: Foxyard
Grzegorz Schetyna: Guilty as hell
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk is expected to sack Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, a close associate, and also the justice minister on Wednesday over a lobbying scandal, a senior government source told Reuters.

"The decision has been made. Tomorrow the prime minister will most likely announce the dismissal of ministers," the source said late on Tuesday.

Tusk is also expected to sack Deputy Economy Minister Adam Szejnfeld, the source said.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Polish Sports Minister Quits Over Casino Scandal

From: New York Times
Miroslaw Drzewiecki: Guilty as hell
Poland's sports minister resigned on Monday over a lobbying scandal that has begun to tarnish the image of Prime Minister Donald Tusk's ruling centre-right Civic Platform (PO).

Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki is one of several high profile officials accused by an anti-graft body of acting on behalf of businessmen trying to water down a bill on higher taxes on the gambling business.

Tusk, who accepted Drzewiecki's resignation, cannot afford any whiff of corruption to infect his party before a presidential election next year in which he is expected to challenge conservative incumbent Lech Kaczynski.

Poles also elect a new parliament in 2011.

Drzewiecki said in a statement he had done nothing wrong but that he had stood down to prevent the scandal harming important projects, especially the EURO 2012 football championship that Poland is due to co-host with Ukraine.

"I believe that when the media frenzy dies down and all the circumstances relating to the gambling bill have been clarified, it will turn out that I have been falsely accused," he said.

"(But) I cannot allow this situation to affect the Euro 2012 preparations or my beloved Orliki project," he said, referring to plans to build soccer stadiums for children.

Last week, Tusk also suspended close associate Zbigniew Chlebowski, head of PO's parliamentary group, pending an investigation into the casino bill allegations.

The anti-PO Rzeczpospolita daily has published a series of transcripts of conversations between Chlebowski and businessmen concerning the gambling bill. The transcripts mention both Drzewiecki and Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Schetyna.

Chlebowski and Schetyna, like Drzewiecki, deny wrongdoing.


The agency behind the claims, the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), was set up by Tusk's conservative predecessor Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is the president's twin brother and now heads the main opposition party Law and Justice (PiS).

Tusk has said the CBA allegations are politically motivated.

He has also vowed that the casino bill will shortly come before parliament and that it will include hikes in gambling taxes to help net more cash for Poland's strained state coffers.

An opinion poll published in Monday's Dziennik newspaper had shown more than two thirds of Poles thought Drzewiecki should quit over what Polish media has dubbed "Blackjack-gate."

The Homo Homini poll also showed support for PO has slipped to 41 percent from 47 percent since the claims first appeared. But opposition parties have so far not been able to profit very much from the case, the poll showed.

Kaczynski's PiS, a right-wing, eurosceptic party, saw its ratings edge up only slightly to 28 percent from 27 percent. Support for the leftist SLD remained broadly flat at 10 percent.

Political analysts say the scandal is unlikely to undermine seriously PO's big lead, which is underpinned by Poland's relatively robust performance in the global economic crisis.

Poland is the only European Union member state to escape recession. Despite a growing budget deficit, the government has signalled it will defer any significant tax hikes or spending cuts aimed at restoring order to the public finances until 2011.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Athletes associations issue statement on corruption in sport

From: Play the Game
At a conference organised by UNI europa and the European Elite Athletes Association in Krakow, Poland in September, participants, representing 26 players associations approved a number of statements, including one on corruption in sport.

The following statements were approved by the conference for release:

Statement on corruption in sport

The members of the European Elite Athletes Association recognize and commend section C4, clause 44, of the Coubertin Action plan of the White Paper on Sport relating to “corruption, money laundering and other financial crime”.

Corruption, for the purposes of this statement, is defined as the misuse of entrusted power for personal gain, which may not necessarily be financial.

Corruption and conflicts of interest in sport have a substantial and negative impact on the position of the athlete. Therefore, the EU Athletes member associations call, in general, for more transparency and accountability in sport. Athletes associations are prepared to play a positive role in this effort but recognize that all actors in sport including federations and leagues must tackle this problem through the adoption and implementation of codes of ethics, and the establishment of effective ethics commissions and compliance systems as is the norm in other industries.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Poland’s Ruling Politicians Reportedly Involved In Illegal Lobbying

From: WSJ
Zbigniew Chlebowski
Zbigniew Chlebowski, a prominent Polish politician of Poland’s ruling Civic Platform party, was caught unawares when he tried to give assurances to an owner of a gambling firm that the government would scrap extra taxes on gambling that were expected to bring 469 million zlotys ($162.1 million) in receipts.
“We’ll do it 90%,” he reportedly said in a conversation intercepted by investigators, quoted by conservative daily Rzeczpospolita today. “I’ve been doing this alone trying to block those payments for a year. I’m taking all the credit.”

A cabinet minister was also reportedly involved in those under-the-table negotiations.
In the past, we’ve seen political parties sidelined after corruption allegations of this magnitude. Oscar-winning film producer Lew Rywin was given a 2.5-year prison sentence after he came to media group Agora with a $17.5 million bribe offer in exchange for laws that would not block Agora’s expansion into television. The post-communist Democratic Left Alliance that Rywin alleged to represent lost the 2005 parliamentary election, winning just 11.31% of votes, compared to 41.04% four years earlier.

But this time may be different. Donald Tusk’s cabinet has had a good press with some of its controversial deeds and inactions, and will continue to enjoy it until the presidential elections next year that can take Tusk to the presidential palace, giving political retirement to Lech Kaczynski, the identical twin brother of the opposition leader Jaroslaw, who was prime minister in 2006-2007.

The Polish mainstream media are generally quite liberal and they don’t want to see an election win of Kaczynski’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, as unlikely as it seems at this point.
But even though the corruption allegations may be downplayed, the ruling camp already has a hard time with them – the man taking all the credit has just tried to run away from a television crew that was questioning him about the affair.

“Oh come on, sorry, really – what’s you’re doing is really unethical,” he told a reporter. Some nerve.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

oland, Eureko Reach Agreement Over PZU Insurer

From: WSJ
Poland and Dutch insurer Eureko BV have settled a nearly decade-long dispute over a botched privatization, going a long way to repairing Poland's reputation among foreign investors and saving the country from a potential $12.1 billion payout in an international arbitration case.

Analysts consider the difficult and complex deal a major victory for the ruling Civic Platform party, which has been accused of passivity since taking office in late 2007, and comes just in time to draw attention away from allegations that two top party officials have been involved in illegal lobbying.

"This is definitely a success and it's good that normal investment conditions are returning to Poland," said Pawel Swieboda, chief executive of DemosEuropa, a Warsaw-based think tank. "This conflict was turning investors off the country."

An element of the historic settlement is the high-profile initial public offering of insurer Powszechny Zaklad Ubezpieczen SA, or PZU, on the Warsaw Stock Exchange sometime in the first half of 2010, which will make it one of the largest companies by market capitalization in Poland.

Moreover, the resolution of the dispute unlocks a payout of three years' worth of dividends, 12 billion zlotys, a development anxiously awaited by various investors who have bought PZU employee shares off-market, as well as Poland's Finance Ministry concerned with a ballooning budget deficit and Eureko.

Negotiations between successive Polish administrations and Eureko had stalled until the effects of global economic slowdown - the need for funds - brought both sides back the bargaining table.

The dispute started when, in 2001, Poland refused to honor a 1999 agreement to complete PZU's privatization, which would have allowed Eureko to acquire a controlling stake in the company. Poland holds 55.1% of PZU, while Eureko has 32.1%.

Eureko claimed Poland's breach of contract had cost it the chance to buy shares at a lower price in the past and to raise PZU's value through its leadership.

Under the terms of the Friday agreement, Eureko will gradually reduce its stake in PZU, and will drop an arbitration case against Poland in exchange for compensation of PLN4.77 billion, several times less than the PLN35 billion or so Eureko initially demanded.

"We have accomplished our goal of regaining control of PZU and structuring Eureko's controlled exit out of the company," Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad told a news conference. "This unblocks PZU's growth."

The Treasury and Eureko will both sell stakes in PZU in an IPO likely to be held next year. Poland will pay Eureko compensation partly from its dividend proceeds and partly from the sale of a 5% stake in PZU sold in the IPO. Meanwhile, the state budget will receive PLN3.4 billion in dividends from PZU.

While Poland has weathered the global crisis relatively unscathed so far, it faces a ballooning budget deficit and needs structural reforms to unlock further growth potential and reduce surging public debt.

The ruling Civic Platform party, which has a majority in Parliament, has shied away from any ambitious and socially painful, economic reforms for fear that they will be immediately vetoed by President Lech Kaczynski, whose twin brother, Jaroslaw, heads the opposition Law and Justice party.

"The government is waiting out this term - and limiting itself to the bare minimum - in the hopes of winning both the next parliamentary and presidential elections," said Swieboda of DemosEuropa. "And it has given voters to understand it will take on ambitious reforms then."

Concerns that PZU would sell large amounts of its portfolio of bonds to pay the dividend and that Eureko would exchange its part of the dividend plus billions of zlotys in compensation into euro, weighed on both the zloty and Polish bonds in past weeks.

Treasury Minister Grad reiterated PZU would conduct the payout in a way designed not to disturb markets, while PZU Chief Executive Andrzej Klesyk said the company won't need to sell its portfolio of treasury bonds to fund its dividend payment, as it had secured commitments from banks for PLN32 billion in loans for the purpose.

The zloty strengthened 1.5% against the euro after Grad's statement.

Citing transcripts of wiretapped phone calls recorded by anti-corruption investigators, Polish daily Rzeczpolpolita reported that Zbigniew Chlebowski, a prominent Civic Platform politician, was trying to give assurances to his friend, an owner of a gambling company, that the government would scrap proposed tax hikes on gambling, which were expected to bring in PLN469 million extra budget revenue.

At a news conference later Thursday, Chlebowski said he had been involved in "unfortunate conversations" with the businessman but denied doing anything illegal or trying to shape the legislation.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cops: Glens Falls man tried to lure child at Polish Fest

From: Times Online
A 51-year-old Glens Falls man was arrested Sunday after he allegedly attempted to lure several children into his car using a puppy at a local festival, police said.

Aleksander J. Michalski, 51, was arraigned in Colonie Town Court late Sunday on one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

Police said he went to the annual Polish Festival at the Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestochowa on Maxwell Road just after 4 p.m., and tried to entice a 7-year-old into his 2009 Dodge Caliber with a puppy.

After he approached the 7-year-old, police said the child screamed for help, alerting several witnesses. Police arrived and took Michalski into custody. During the Glens Falls man’s court appearance, police said they have eyewitness statements and have spoken to several other children who may have been approached by Michalski.

Colonie Police are still investigating and more charges are pending. Michalski was taken to the Albany County Correctional Facility on $1,000 bail or $7,500 bail bond.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Polish Police Raid Dog Fight, 18 Men Detained

From: NYTimes
A large police squad raided a dog-fight venue in western Poland Saturday and detained 18 men in what is believed to be the country's first such incident, police said.

"Our 50-strong task force comprising criminal, riot and anti-terrorist police entered a barn in the village of Kapiel near Gniezno while a dog fight was under way," provincial police spokesman Zbigniew Paszkiewicz told Reuters by telephone.

All the detainees were taken to police headquarters for questioning. The animals, some of them injured, were transported to the local animal shelter, Paszkiewicz said.

Dog fights are not specifically banned under Polish law, but the men could face up to two years in prison if convicted on animal cruelty charges.

News channel TVN24 showed scenes of the dogs, mainly pitbulls but at least one Dalmatian, being loaded into police vans.

"This is the first such dog-fight raid I have ever heard of in Poland," the spokesman added.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Internal theft in Polish firms skyrockets

From: Polskie Radio
Over 90 percent of Polish companies report losses from internal theft – much of which is prompted as revenge for redundancy, according to a report by Euler Hermes, a French credit insurance company.

The Euler Hermes report shows that the economic crisis has caused dramatic increase in the amount of internal theft and losses that companies report. One year ago, the figure measured about 50 percent of firms tested, this year, 92 percent of companies in Poland report losses due to employees stealing.

“We expected growth. But, I am shocked at how high [the number] is,” claims Adam Ambrozik, director of the Department of Enterprise in the Confederation of Polish Employers.

This week alone has show two extraordinary examples of internal thievery: 600,000 zloty (142,000 euro) worth of goods were stolen from the shipping warehouse at the Katowice airport and 150 televisions were stolen from the Sharp factory near Torun, central Poland, by employees.

“Not only is the amount of situations quickly going up, but also the value of goods being stolen,” says Bartosz Pikula, head of the risk management office at Euler Hermes.

The report shows that fifteen percent of firms note annual internal losses of over 200,000 zloty (almost 50,000 euro) and the number of firms showing losses between 50,000-100,000 zloty increased from 15 percent in 2008 to 35 percent this year.

Pikila at Euler Hermes attributes the great jump in losses to the economic recession. According to Pikula, employees find their personal debt increasing but salaries decreasing, driving many to find a means to make up the difference. Additionally, the idea of revenge for being fired has become more popular.

“Layoffs or denying pay raises related to cutting costs has become reason enough for employees to steal from their company,” claims Pikula.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Fans call for boycott of Poland – Slovakia match

From: Polskie Radio
Polish football fans are planning a protest against the Polish FA with a boycott of the match with Slovakia on 14 October.

The organizers of the protest want to demonstrate a lack of support towards PZPN, the governing body of football in Poland, which according to its numerous critics is obsolete and harmful to the progress of the game. They stress that they want to protest merely against PZPN, and not Polish team, its new coach Stefan Majewski or anyone else.

The boycott would have remained as an obscure idea of a few desperate fans, if it hadn’t been for Jerzy Dudek who expressed his opinion on it and paradoxically promoted the idea. Dudek, Polish goalkeeper who has been recalled to Poland’s national team, claims that the idea of protest is good, but it should be conducted by other means. “If fans want to protest against PZPN in a different way, I’d support them, but I can’t accept the idea of boycott. We need fans’ support,” said Dudek.

Critics have along complained of the lack of a will to tackle corruption within Polish football. They also point to lack of investment in the game and a failure to get behind the previous coach, Leo Beenhakker in the middle of qualifying games for the World Cup in South Africa next year.

The match against Slovakia is all but academic as the chances of Poland reaching the finals in 2010 are mathematically slim following a poor run of form in the last few matches in Group 3, against Northern Ireland and Slovenia.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Poland MPs okay castration for paedophiles

From: Gulf-Times
Poland’s parliament has passed legislation introducing obligatory chemical castration for convicted paedophiles and perpetrators of incest proposed by the country’s centrist-liberal government.

Under the new law, a court must rule on pharmacological treatment aimed at lowering the sex drive for convicted paedophiles or incest offenders prior to imprisonment or six months before their release from prison on probation.

The law was approved by an overwhelming majority of 400 with one vote against and two abstentions in Poland’s 460-seat lower house of parliament. The legislation must pass in the 100-seat senate or upper house and be signed by the president before taking effect.

In a raft of amendments to Poland’s criminal code, parliamentarians also introduced harsher sentences for convicted paedophiles and perpetrators of incest of a minimum three years’ jail.

The legislation also criminalises any attempt to justify paedophilia or any claims that sexual relations between adults and children are not harmful.

Anyone convicted of propagating so-called “good paedophilia” is subject to a prison term of up to two years.
The same sentence applies to anyone attempting to seduce a minor under 15 years of age over the Internet.

The legislation passed yesterday also criminalises the creation and dissemination of nude pictures or sexual activity of individuals over the Internet without their consent.

Liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk first raised the controversial issue of chemical castration for convicted paedophiles in September 2008 after a 45-year-old man was charged with having raped and held his 21-year-old daughter captive for six years.

The young woman gave birth to two children, in 2005 and 2007, allegedly the result of having been raped by her father.
“I want ... to introduce in Poland the most rigorous law possible regarding criminals who rape children,” Tusk said at the time.

In November 2008, Polish justice authorities also charged a 47-year-old HIV-positive man with endangering the life of a 15-year-old he seduced over the Internet.

Seven hundred cases of paedophilia are reported to police in Poland each year.

Poland’s southern EU neighbour the Czech Republic has voluntary chemical and surgical castration laws in place for sex offenders.

The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee has urged Prague to end voluntary surgical castration.

Since 2000, around 300 Czech patients have undergone chemical castration, with around 94 undergoing the surgical removal of genitalia on a voluntary basis, according to Czech government statistics.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Polish police detain 57 in child porn case

From: M&C
Fifty-seven people were detained in Poland on suspicion of distributing child pornography on the internet, the Polish Press Agency PAP reported Wednesday.

Polish officials followed a tip-off from police in Wiesbaden, in south-western Germany, to track down the suspects by tracing the IP addresses on their computers.

The suspects were detained after a country-wide sweep across 16 districts that secured 158 hard discs and nearly 6,000 CDs and DVDs.

Police said there could be more arrests.

In six previous child pornography sweeps this year, operations under the codenames: Present, Irena, Cytrus, Simone 3, Typhon, and Karnawal, 322 people were detained.

Police detained 330 suspects in 2008.