Turmoil in Poland: After a new law, there is a hail of criticism from the opposition, the EU and the USA. There is even talk of civil war.
Warsaw - A new law in Poland is causing tensions between the country, the EU and the US: The US government has expressed concern about a controversial law in Poland that provides for the convening of a commission of inquiry into Russia's influence. The law could be misused to "interfere with free and fair elections in Poland," said a statement released by the US State Department on Monday night.
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"We share the concern expressed by many observers that this law establishing a commission to investigate Russian influence could be used to prevent the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process." The decision is likely to further worsen already strained relations between Warsaw and Brussels, as the European Commission freezes billions in EU repair money for the pandemic amid fears that the Polish government will deviate from the bloc's democratic principles.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders described the project as "particularly worrying" on Tuesday (30 May) in Brussels. We will not hesitate to take action if necessary. There is also criticism from the scientific community. "Duda has signed a law that allows parliament to set up a commission that will usurp the functions of courts, prosecutors and special services," tweeted Ben Stanley, associate professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw, adding: "There is a deep irony in the fact that the bill allegedly examines Russian influence on Polish public life, while at the same time providing for the creation of a Kangaroo court, which comes directly from Putin's ideology." (In drastic language, the Russian politician Dmitry Medvedev recently issued a threat against Poland. Vladimir Putin's confidant became polemical.)
"President Andrzej Duda today has seriously weakened our country, both internally and externally; He decided to unleash a Polish civil war," said Szymon Hołownia, leader of the opposition party Poland 2050.
Poland's President Andrzej Duda (right) received US President Joe Biden in Warsaw in February. © Czarek Sokolowski/AP/dpa
PiS government accuses Donald Tusk of unfavorable gas contracts with Russia, among other things
According to the draft law, a commission of inquiry is to examine whether public officials succumbed to Russian influence between 2007 and 2022 and made decisions that harmed the country's security. This includes, for example, concluding contracts that could favor Russian influence and sharing relevant information with third parties. The Commission should also be able to impose penalties. Among other things, it can block functionaries from taking office for a period of up to ten years if this office also includes control over public funds. There is no provision for an appeal against this.
The commission is to be composed of nine people appointed by the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm. There, the PiS has the majority. Former EU Council President Donald Tusk was Poland's head of government from 2007 to 2014. The PiS government accuses him, among other things, of having concluded unfavorable gas contracts with Russia.
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Critics accuse the national-conservative PiS government of aiming to discredit opposition leader and former head of government Donald Tusk with the law a few months before the parliamentary elections in autumn. In addition, the Commission could also ban officials from holding office.
Polish government insists that it has no hidden intentions
The American ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, also said clearly on TVN24 that he shares the concerns of many Poles that the law could be instrumentalized. He welcomed the fact that the President now wanted to submit the law to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal for review.
Leading PiS politicians have already voiced criticism of US Ambassador Brzezinski. Poland's former Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski wrote on Twitter: "The American ambassador openly criticizes the Polish government on a private television station that is politically strongly committed to the Polish government. This is an unbelievable diplomatic scandal."
The Polish government insists that it has no hidden intentions. "There is nothing to be afraid of," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, adding: "Why is our esteemed opposition, especially Mr. Tusk, so afraid of a commission to review Russian influence?" (CGSC with dpa)
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