It has been over a month since I wrote last piece in the series of Meanwhile in Cuckooland. It is partially because of my work on the article on Jewish matters, which required extensive research, partially due to my other work commitments. That means that, unless you were following Polish matters elsewhere, you missed the whole final run to the European elections. So let’s use this piece to look closer to what happened during this period.
PiS is aware, that despite their attempts to repugnant Europe to Poles, even their voters are strongly pro-EU. So they took the European elections seriously. Half of the government decided to ditch their jobs and stand up for the cosy sinecures in Brussels. With the army of candidates led by Beata Szydło, known as a prime minister who removed European flags from the official government buildings, PiS was expected to have a hard time. Especially, that in the run-up to the elections, scandal after scandal emerged, and gaffe followed gaffe. And I don’t even mean the huge financial scandal involving Kaczyński here, as this is already old news. So let’s look at some things that happened during run-up to the elections:
♦ it had emerged, that the government was doing everything to DO NOT apprehend Marek Falenta, a businessmen with ties to Russia, wanted for his involvement in eavesdropping affair around which PiS built its narration about corrupt government, that led to it’s raise to power (despite the fact, that recordings didn’t show really anything compromising, see here). The activities here could suggest, that PiS wants to do everything to protect him…
♦ further logging in Puszcza Białowieska was announced. The plans are constructed in such way, that as many trees as possible could be cut down without openly violating the ruling of European Tribunals on the matter (although the plans are in line with letter of the law, there are certainly against its spirit). The pretext this time is fire risk. Seems legit: no forest – no forest fires, safety improved…
♦ former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Witold Waszczykowski, complained on Twitter when the plane of the lower standard that he expected was provided for his flight to Brussels. According to him the condition of flight was “outrageous”, especially for someone, who is flying to work, not just for holidays. He was quickly brought down to Earth (not literally, that is) when people pointed out, that flights of lower standards are popular amongst those, who pay for their tickets from their own pockets…
♦ there was yet another accident involving a government VIP car. This time BMW limo driven by first lady’s personal driver injured a cyclist, who had right of way. Luckily the government decided to finally do something about the persistent problem of government limos having accidents. They are buying their own recovery truck with “two independent winches”.
♦ it turned out that nazis, who celebrated Hitler’s birthday in the forest had his own man in the court. According to Gazeta Wyborcza a judge’s assistant was providing them with legal help and advice. He was later promoted and got a job in Ministry of Justice.
♦ A newly appointed manager of the Koleje Dolnośląskie, who replaced highly acclaimed manager of this most succesful local-government controlled railway company because the former one was not a follower of PiS (see more here), cancelled the order for 11 new trains, which might lead to the loss of 85 000 000 zł from EU funding. Those trains are crucial for the company, as due to overwhelming success and rapid growth in passengers number it needs to improve it’s fleet. But some suspect, that the success of Koleje Dolnośląskie was too big, and the government wants to limit it growth in order to allow for government controled national railway to take over their business.
♦ PiS’ flagship project of digging the canal through Viselska Kosa fell under jeopardy after the market verified government expectations: the construction companies say that its construction can cost as much as 1.5 to 1.8 bilions of Polish Złoty instead of 880-000 000 as estimated by the government.
♦ The juidical reform continues: a Poznań disciplinary judge faces disciplinary action from the chief disciplinary judge for that he did not disciplined a judge who found a PiS political opponent not guilty of alleged crime.
♦ A prosecutor’s office decided to restart a disciplinary proceedings regarding Roman Giertych, an advocate and an outspoken critic of PiS. I am writing “regarding” as the procurator in charge was herself unable to explain if the new actions are aimed against him, or against the disciplinary court who failed to discipline him for an utterance during a TV interview three years ago. Even those who don’t understand Polish will feel sorry for her, struggling to say anything sensible to defend her actions when pressed by the journalists (link to interview here).
♦ Meanwhile Italian hunters, who killed over 1000 birds in illegal hunt, will not be charged, as the prosecutor found out that they were unaware of the fact, that they are breaking the law. I thought that ignorantia iuris nocet is the basis of the legal system, but apparently what do I know…
♦ speaking of hunters: in light of the recent protest against excessive hunting for pleasure, minister of agriculture demands for the hunters to get a police protection from environmental activists… I wonder if the protesters will be OK if they claim they never knew their protests are illegal… But wait, they protests ARE legal, at least for now!
♦ The yacht “I love Poland”, used by a group of friends to
sail around the world at the expense of taxpayer… ehrrm, I mean, to promote Poland, just lost it’s mast and it will be very expensive to fix it. But according to its captain, it’s good promotion of Poland, as they managed to get the vessel to the port, and nobody died.
♦ It had yet again emerged, that the PiS government pumps money into father’s Rydzyk business empire in every way possible. His geo-thermal enterprise received 27.5 mln PLN of grants and 8.4 mln of loans. His empire is also providing training for the government institution (at the expense of over 380 000) and organizes scientific conferences. Another government agency spent 1.5 milion on sponsored interviews with its employees in father’s Rydzyk TV station.
♦ In response to an outrage caused by Tomasz Sekielski’s documentary on Paedophilia in Polish church, PiS rushed a hasty reform of the criminal law. As usual, it just made the matters worse: from now forcing a minor to have sex will no longer be a crime. In the midst of chaotic changes somehow disappeared recent change that made clocking back a car’s tachometer a crime, so dishonest car traders can go back to their old ways of cheating their customers. Moreover, under newly reformed law football hooligans will receive lower sentences than ordinary thugs, and big scale financial criminals will be treated more lightly than an ordinary thieves. Is that just an omission, or does the fact, that big scale financial criminals and football hooligans are amongst PiS activists?
♦ somehow the reform of the criminal law did not removed the obvious absurd, and so the verdict in the case of the pyramid scheme Amber Gold will be read over approx 40 days, as the law require the name of every single of the 18 000 victims of the scam to be read out loudly in court…
♦ speaking of financial criminals: an investigation by Gazeta Wyborcza reporters showed, that Mateusz Morawiecki bought some land on the outskirts of Wrocław from the church at fraction of the price. Today those lands are worth hundred times more than back then (or four hundred times more than he paid for them back then). The case is complicated and there are many suspicious activities around this business deal, that could suggest hidden bribes and so on. Prime minister’s wife, who is officially the owner of those lands (as they separated their estate before he entered politics) said, that she is ready to sell the part of the land required for the road at the same price she bought it for, and donate money to charity. Well, one has to be said: they know how to do business: she will loose a bit of money, but in exchange the city will build a road providing access to her other lands there…
♦ Prime minister is not the only one who likes to profit from the public money: a PiS MP used police helicopter to shoot his campaign advert.
♦ Meanwhile another government official interrupted a game of local football clubs to land his helicopter at the football field.
♦ on 1st of May a fascist from the radical right party publicly trampled on the EU flag on the backdrop of the banner displaying racist symbols:
Of course the Police is not interested in such matters. If it only happened on Facebook, at least he would be blocked, as a lady, who was banned for saying he is for death penalty for blasphemy. She had a cheek to write to the satirical website who covered the story demanding clarification, that she is indeed for killing people for blasphemy, but this is not to be confused with demanding a death penalty for people who got different views than she has.
It seems the police has similar views to hers, as while they do not act against people, who demand their enemies to be killed or propagate fascist ideas, don’t you better dare to make a picture of the Holy Mary with the rainbow aureole – two people are already charged with the crime of offending religious feelings. Wearing a t-shirt with a Polish air force logo in rainbowy frame can also lead you to trouble… But of course it is not that just homosexualism is bad. An art gallery was forced to remove an artwork – a series of photos of young woman eating banana – as it had erotic connotations.
This clearly shows, that alliance between church and the government in Poland is only getting closer. A recent joke circulating amongst my Polish friends predicts a near future:
“A guy lies in bed in the morning when somebody bangs at his doors.
– Who’s that? – he asks.
– The police – comes the answer.
– I don’t believe!
– We know, that’s why we are here!”
The PiS was falling over each other to defend the church, accused by the film-makers of swiping the problem of paedophilia under the carpet:
A PiS MP said, that he won’t watch this movie “just as he never read Mein Kampf”, because he already knows how much evil that book brought to the world. Ryszard Legutko, PiS MEP, said, that since most victims are teenage boys, it proves that not paedophilia, but homosexualism is the problem. The police was ordered to keep tabs on all public screenings of the movie. TVP tried hard to prove, that there is more paedophiles amonst bricklayers than priests. I’ll give PiS’ spokesperson Beata Mazurek the benefit of the doubt and assume, that when she said that “now the most important thing is to protect the offenders” it was just a Freudian slip. But when we see the scene from the recent movie “Kler”, in which the bishop tells the most important politician to include the word “who’s raising hand to attack the church, is attacking Poland”, and then Kaczyński says exactly the very same words, the things become scary:
And despite all of this, PiS won the European Elections. Beata Szydło herself received 470 000 votes. Apparently the opposition needs to come with something more than just “vote for us, as PiS is bad”. Poles know that PiS is bad, and yet they keep voting it. Opposition needs to finally understand why…
The only relief is that while PiS won in Poland, the EU parliament is, as it name shows, European. And PiS, along with their friends from their alliance of far-right parties, will have very little to say in Brussels. It’s just a shame, that we wasted again our chance to have a good representation…