The impasse at the presidential palace shows that the Polish right will not go quietly

The impasse at the presidential palace shows that the Polish right will not go quietly

Poland’s difficult transition to a new government hit dramatic turbulence on Wednesday when a prominent hard-line minister from the former right-wing administration declared himself a “political prisoner” and announced he was starting a strike. hunger to protest his arrest after his conviction for abuse. power.

Seeking to avoid a two-year prison sentence handed down by a Warsaw court in December, former minister Mariusz Kaminski took refuge from police on Tuesday in the palace of the Polish president, a close ally of the former conservative government party, Law. and Justice.

The resulting clash between police loyal to the new government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a veteran centrist, and Law and Justice supporters intensified the disruptive campaign led by the former ruling party, defeated in the October elections, to resist the transfer of power by casting election winners as illegitimate usurpers bent on persecuting their rivals.

Tuesday’s clash at the presidential palace ended peacefully late in the evening, after police were allowed to enter the building. They arrested Mr Kaminski, a former minister responsible for Poland’s security services, as well as a former aide, Maciej Wasik, who was also convicted of abuse of power.

In a statement released Wednesday from prison, Mr. Kaminski denounced his arrest as “an act of political revenge” and said: “That is why, as a political prisoner, I am launching a hunger protest at the first day of my imprisonment. »

Mr. Kaminski, one of the most powerful members of the former Law and Justice government, led the harsh crackdown on migrants trying to sneak into the country from neighboring Belarus. He sparked outrage in 2021 by accusing migrants of being sexual deviants.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, a watchdog group, called Mr. Kaminski’s description of a political prisoner a “deeply unfair distortion” that “damages the memory of those actually imprisoned because of their beliefs, their attitudes and their struggle for democracy and human rights. »

Mr. Kaminski and Mr. Wasik were sentenced to prison last month for their roles in entrapping a political rival in 2007 when they were senior officials in Poland’s anti-corruption agency under a previous government of Law and Justice. The case concerned evidence that they oversaw a bribe offer and falsification of documents in their pursuit of their rival, Andrzej Lepper, a radical farmers’ leader who later committed suicide.

The case lasted for years and resulted in a first conviction in 2015. President Andrzej Duda pardoned them, but his action was later invalidated. A new case, opened after an appeal from Mr. Lepper’s family, resulted in a new conviction on December 20. But the men remained free until this week, when a Warsaw court issued an immediate arrest warrant against them, prompting Mr. Kaminski and Mr. Wasjik to seek refuge at the presidential palace.

Law and Justice won more votes than any other party in Poland’s October general election, but lost its parliamentary majority to a coalition of parties led by Mr Tusk, who was appointed prime minister in December.

Former ruling party chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski, insisting that right-wing forces won the election, has repeatedly vowed to block the new government’s efforts to assert its authority. He led his supporters last month in an occupation of the headquarters of Poland’s public broadcasting system, saying a change in leadership ordered by Mr. Tusk’s culture minister was an attack on democracy.

Television and radio stations in the public broadcasting system had previously served as propaganda mouthpieces for law and justice, spewing conspiracy theories that Mr Tusk was a German agent bent on turning Poland into a Vassal state.

In a sign of more problems to come, a Warsaw court ruled Tuesday that the government cannot install new management at state television and radio without the agreement of the National Media Council, a body created by Law and Justice and composed of loyalists opposed to Mr. Defense.

Avatar photo

Eric D. Eilerman

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read also x