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Easter… The most important holidays of Catholics… Christian religion of love. Compared to Western European countries, Poland still celebrates them much more solemnly and in it’s own way. And I don’t even mean the tradition of Śmigus – Dyngus, when on Easter Monday boys chase girls with buckets full of water. We have other traditions: for example every Catholic church builds a grave of Jesus for those three days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
It has became a tradition, that graves become an artistic installation, often related to current events. And so in Lwówek Śląski the cross above the grave was decorated with assault rifles and coat hangers. Coat hangers are the symbol of Black Protest, a women’s right movement fighting against strictening of abortion laws. The priest left no place for interpretation when in his summon he compared those women to ISIS.
In Rumia meanwhile Jesus’s grave was placed in the wreck of a Tupolev plane. “We wanted to show, that Smoleńsk crash does not end anything. But it leaves a hollow and only Jesus can fill this space” – says the priest. Poor Jesus, just a few years back celebrated as a King of the Universe, today merely a space filler for Lech Kaczyński…
Smoleńsk crash Jesus’s graves seems to be popular, reports of similar installations come from all over Poland. But of course it was not the only political theme of Easter in Polish Catholic Church. Archbishop Depo in his summon lamented, that Europe and the whole world are against Poland. He also referred to discussion of abortion by pointing out that people fight for animal rights while Polish children are being killed in the line of law every day! Archbishop Jędraszewski reminded us about Pontius Pilate, who, giving up to the “foreign pressure and street protests” allowed Jesus, an innocent man, to be sentenced to death. It just happens that PiS on many occasion stated, that they won’t give up to “foreign pressure and street protests”, is that coincidence, that he used exactly the same phrase?
Papers publish related articles: Gazeta Polska Codziennie, pro-PiS right wing paper, wrote that the case of Jesus was an example of court murder, and can be compared to many court cases of so called Cursed Soldiers…
As is typical for Easter, many people were sending postcards. Most of them were of course full of love and wishes, but there were some, that only expressed some wishes. That last one instead of typical Easter bunnies, eggs and chickens had only a cross. Celtic cross. With the slogan “White Power” under it. And the picture of Auschwitz gate with the famous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” on the other side. It has been send to Fundacja Bęc! Zmiana, a cultural NGO. The wish was simple: in one line it said “Get the fuck out of here, Jews from Mokotowska street!”
There were also some miracles. A baby has become a debtor before it even was born. Now, at five years old, the boy has to deal with the bailiffs. It turns out, that when his mother refused to accept her father’s inheritance (which consisted mostly of unpaid debts), she should also do it in the name of the baby that has not been even born yet. Now she can’t do anything any more, as it’s too late to act. Apparently it is her fault that she never thought about such an absurd idea! Tough luck, isn’t she aware what country she is living in? The absurds like that are everywhere.
In Kraków, for example, a shopkeeper was ordered to remove illegally built pavement, despite the fact that it has been build at least 10 years before he moved into adjacent property and has nothing to do with it. He send the letter to explain that it is a mistake, but since he did not followed the formal appeal procedure (of which he was not aware, as he is not the lawyer), the city assumed, that he agrees with that decision and punishes him for not adhering to it.
The state institution seems to be more understanding to some other shopkeepers though. In an investigation conducted into the matter of the MP’s wife ignoring the Sunday shopping ban (we wrote about the case over last two weeks), the inspectors found that she did nothing wrong, as she opened the shop legally and served customers herself, which is allowed. This is of course contradictory to the journalist’ report, not to mention her own explanation, but, hey-ho. Her husband is an MP for the ruling party, it would be inconvenient if they were proved to be hypocrites, right?
Especially when they try to prove, that the opposition are hypocrites. “Previous government was doing the same” is PiS’s crown argument to everything. One of PiS MP in attempt to defend bonuses for Beata Szydło’s government asked for official information of how much bonuses Donald Tusk paid to his ministers. The response did not matched his expectations, as it showed that while Beata Szydło awarded her ministers with 800 000 zł worth of bonuses in just one year, Donald Tusk’s ministers received total of 38 000 zł in bonuses over 5 years. That was a mere flesh wound to PiS unstoppable black knight of propaganda, so Wiadomości presented a graph, according to which total bonuses during Donald Tusk and Ewa Kopacz governments costed taxpayer 626 000 000 zł while Beata Szydło paid only 1 500 000 zł over two years. Manipulation was obvious – it’s enough to mention that 626 millions refers to the total sum of bonuses paid to all government employees, while 1.5 millions refers only the members of the Beata Szydło cabinet. According to TVP, there was no manipulation, as it was clearly said what is compared with what. But they know, that impression matters – that’s why they chosen some big number to make this 1.5 million look small. And they were quite restrained, they could compare that 1.5 millions with, for example, distance from Sun to Proxima Centauri: 1.5 millions compared to 40.14 trillion of kilometres would look even better, right?
But that would be too ridiculous. PiS only does regular ridiculous, so next time they reported on the topic they placed 1.5 of Szydło bonuses next to 381 000 000 000 zł of alleged losses the Polish budged incurred during previous government:
The cherry on the top was a comment below, which says “Convoy of shame organized by PO offends Poles’ intelligence” – where the “convoy of shame” is PO’s PR stunt with the cavalcade of the cars pulling billboard showing faces of PiS ministers and sum of the bonuses they have received…
Speaking of advertisement vehicles, the idea of plastering trucks with graphics promoting Poland has been finally noticed abroad, when one of such lorries went off the road in Holland. The driver turned out to be so drunk, that he had difficulties standing. Surely now many Dutch drivers will give Polish trucks a wide berth, but will the Polish right interpret it as Poland being respected, I am not sure. The new idea to promote Poland is to sail over seven seas. It will serve as a promotional tool for Polish brilliant yacht building industry – or rather it could do that if not for the fact, that it is going to be second-hand foreign build vessel. Let’s hope, that captain-to-be of that expedition, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, who made his name sailing a small dinghy, will perform better than this lorry driver, as last thing we need are new stanzas for the popular shantie “what should we do with a drunken sailor”… Kusznierewicz looks forward and shared his vision of the promotional potential: “we can for example visit a school in Cape Town, dressed in full gear, storm jackets, with long beards, and we will talk about Poland”. Yeah, great plan, well worth 20 000 000 zł of taxpayer’s money… Or is it? Aleksander Doba, who paddled across the Atlantic in his kayak, made to the first page of New York Times with just a small help of sponsors, crowdfunding and assistance of his friends. You can read a fascinating reportage about this amazing personality here (in English).
And if the trucks and this enormously expensive yacht trip won’t be sufficient to promote Poland, then perhaps the modern technologies could do better? The government just introduced a new law regarding start-ups, which gives him right to buy the successful enterprises at the price set by the government valuator. Would you invest in new company, knowing, that if it proves to be successful, the government will take it over at the price it considers right? Or would you rather go to create your start-up in one of neighbouring countries like Czech Republic? Somehow I don’t see investors flocking into Poland, when the Polish law is becoming more and more unpredictable like that.
It turns out that I am not the only one who has concerns in that matter. And I am in a good company of Prince Adán Carlos Jesús María José Francisco de Sales y todos los Santos Czartoryski-Bórbon Krasinski y Orléans, or – for those, who did in fact noticed, that aristocracy was abolished in Poland by the constitution of 1921 – mr Adam Czartoryski… But let’s start from the beginning of that story.
Fundacja Czartoryskich is an organisation that was established in 1991 in order to take care of the famous art collection of Czartoryski Family, that includes masterpieces from Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Matejko, Dürer and many others, including rights to Rafael’s “Portrait of the young man” which has never been recovered after being stolen by Nazis during the war. While this collection remained a property of the foundation, run by Czartoryski family, it was de facto in possession of Polish National Museums and it has been considered one of the national treasures.
About two years ago, PiS came with the idea, that for some reason the Polish state should actually own this collection, and the negotiation has begun, although in a bit of unusual way: instead of negotiating with the foundation boards of directors, the talks were held directly with its council, headed by Adam Czartoryski. The director of the foundation resigned in protest of such important decisions being taken behind his back, and has been replaced by Maciej Radziwiłł, from another famous aristocratic family. Incidentally, Maciej Radziwiłł is also a brother of PiS’s minister of health, Konstanty Radziwiłł. No wonder, that there were no further obstructions and soon the collection has been purchased at the price of 100 000 000 Euro. Some say, it was a bargain, others point out, that it was half a billion of Polish złoty wasted, as since those paintings could not be sold on the free market anyway due to Polish law and Foundation’s own statute, they had no market value. But despite protests from the opposition, PiS was very proud of itself, saying that now this money will be put to good use, as the good lords from the aristocratic family will put this money to promote and support Polish culture and everything. After all, this is what aristocrats do, right?
So you can imagine now everyone’s surprise when recently Fundacja Czartoryskich filed for liquidation as a reason quoting… the lack of funds. So what happened to this pile of money they got from PiS for “Lady with an Ermine” and her pals? It turned out, that those money now belong to another foundation called Le Jour Viendra, based in Liechtenstein. According to Fundacja Czartoryskich Polish law is faulty and does not allow to run such a rich foundation. And the fact, that Principality of Liechtenstein is also well known tax haven is, I guess, a mere coincidence…
So the bottom line of this story is, that PiS gave the fortune to rich aristocratic family, who then transferred it to tax haven and laughs all the way to bank, saying that the state in which the pleb who sponsored the whole enterprise lives, is “not up to their standards”. Because this is what aristocrats really do.
Is that how PiS wants us to get up from our knees? That apart from kneeling in front of every bishop, Poland is now to brown nose descendants of Polish magnates?
This piece was written for Britske Listy
Photo of the Lady with the ermine: Cezary Piwowarski (Creative Commons)
Screenshot from TVP linked from Reddit