“It’s Sunday morning. The autumn sun shines between the trees, and I still have pain in my heart and my words of apology go to those, who are not with us. This pain cannot be removed, I have to suffer”. Those are just a few words from the festival of hypocrisy that is going on the social media profiles of Artur Zawisza, former PiS MP. He is suffering so much, because despite loosing his driving license for DUI a few years back, he was still driving his car and hit a cyclist, causing severe injuries. Despite this, he was caught behind the wheel AGAIN, the evening of the same day. He believes that it is a great injustice and floods his Social Media with self-pitying entries. Somehow there is not much mentioning about his victim… Ok, Zawisza is sorry that she got injured, but according to him he did nothing wrong, and accidents like that simply happen…
Zawisza though is not the only one to feel the autumn spleen. It seems that PiS after some time realised how uncomfortable for them will be to do not have majority in Senate. President Duda set as late as possible date for the first meeting of the newly-elected parliament in hope, that his party will be able to bribe someone to switch sides. If that fails, PiS fired several electoral protests, pointing out that in some of the electoral districts there was suspicious number of void votes. Incidentally, the number of void votes in this election was much lower than in the previous ones, that gave PiS full power in both chambers of the parliament, and their protests only concern those places, where the opposition candidate won with slight majority. In response, the opposition fired protests regarding those districts, in which PiS candidate won with just a slight majority. But of course this is not the same. The opposition’ protests are “undemocratic” while PiS’ protests are democratic, as it’s PiS duty to ensure that they have majority in Senate – according to Stanisław Karczewski, the hitherto speaker of the parliament. He also said that trying to bribe senators to switch side is “completely normal”, despite the fact, that just three years ago he was amongst those, who called for new regulation that would result in expiring the mandate of those, who decided to switch sides.
Apparently PiS, that often claims that they “express the will of the sovereign” are only happy to listen to the nation if the things are going their way. They also seem to be unhappy with Stanisław Piotrowicz failing to secure place in the Sejm, so they are pressuring those, who got more votes than him to step down, allowing him to take their places. He is crucial to PiS, as the take over of the justice system is not completed yet, and to achieve that, they really need someone with law degree, yet without the slightest bit of decency to control the process, and Piotrowicz, a former communist prosecutor, is simply perfect for the job.
And now, more than ever, it is visible how important was PiS take over of the judiciary. If the aforementioned protests make it to the High Court, the decision will fall in the hands of illegally appointed judge Joanna Lemańska. Who happens to be a personal friend of president Duda.
Another example of why the fight for the independence of the courts is not just some abstract political game, but a matter of great importance for every citizen is the oncoming case in the High Court. In the game-changing case, courts of two lower instances awarded a victim of the paedophile priest damages not only personally from the perpetrator, but also from the convent that was covering his actions. The convent was supporting their monk all the way down and paid for the best lawyers for him, but now, after they lost, the church claims that he is a private person and church has nothing to do with him, and therefore church should not pay any damages (which in reality means that the victim not only won’t get any payments, but will be forced to pay back to the church the sum she already got). Thanks to the “reforms” of the judiciary system, the panel of judges in that case will comprise solely illegally appointed judges. And those will be:
– a judge who is known for being very kind to the church in her previous cases;
– a professor of the Catholic University in Lublin
– a former solicitor who represented church against paedophilia victims.
The stakes are very high, as in the following similar cases all courts will have to treat this ruling of the High Court as a precedent and rule accordingly.
Another example of why it was so important for PiS to control the justice system is the case of Austrian developer who hasn’t been paid for his work by Kaczyński (see more here). The prosecution after 259 days (the deadline is 30 days) since the crime was reported decided to not pursue the matter. Kaczyński was never even interviewed, while the Austrian businessmen was tormented by the prosecutors for days. In the meantime the law was amended in such a way, that the Austrian’s lawyers cannot appeal to the court any more – they only can appeal to higher prosecution office (do I have to remind the reader that under PiS, the prosecution is under complete control of Zbigniew Ziobro, a minister of justice and a prosecutor general in one?). Only after exhausting this path, they will be able to appeal to the court. Judging from how fast the case is progressing so far, it can take years. By which time PiS hopes to have a complete control over courts as well…
PiS in general is not to quick when it comes to things that are not comfortable to them. Marek Kuchciński, who lost his position of the speaker of the parliament in August for abusing his privillege and using government planes as his private taxi, still resides in the speaker’s residence, enjoys the perks of the speaker’s limo and security guards – and all despite the fact, that he is just a regular MP. Meanwhile in other matters PiS seems to be acting with unprecedented speed. An Institute for Forestry Research is to bear the name of Jan Szyszko, despite the fierce opposition of its staff. And no wonder, as with Jan Szyszko record of being the man, who cause the most damage to the Polish nature in decades, it is the last person that should be celebrated in such a way… But who cares, at worst the government will pay for another information campaign to teach people how wonderful scientist and environmentalist Jan Szyszko was, just as Ministry of Justice is doing just now: after Supreme Audit Office found that funds of the Ministry are mis-spend, founding organizations and foundations related to father Rydzyk and minister Ziobro’s political friends, the ministry is now starting a 17 500 000 zł worth campaign to educate people on how well ministry’s money is spent.
I guess even bigger money will be needed to cover yet another scandal with Marian Banaś, the head of Supreme Audit Office – who just came from his hiding after it has emerged that he deals with known criminals who run a brothel in a building that he owns (and that he acquired in suspicious circumstances). Now it has emerged that while he was a Minister of Finances, his close co-workers were involved in huge scale VAT scam. The PiS came to power promising to deal with VAT scams, and it seems that their own people were behind this. Banaś denies any knowledge of this, despite being now the head of the Supreme Audit Office. One can think that this is more than enough for him to resign, but it won’t be so easy.
The thing is that with all scandals that have already emerged, PiS desperately needs someone they can control as the head of Supreme Audit Office. But the days when they could do whatever they wanted are over as they lost their majority in Senate. And they cannot allow for someone impartial, as their carpets are bulging with all those problems they swiped under them already, so there is an impasse. Meanwhile Marian Banaś is using this time to make Supreme Audit Office dig out any dirt on PiS officials to ensure they will be afraid to touch him.
Well, at least some control institutions will be busy with digging around PiS for a change. Because for now they are busy to control other things. Like art for example: two police officers came to Gdańsk theatre to control “level of nudity” during one of the performances, as they were afraid that young kids might be demoralized, despite the fact that the show was for over 16. In Poznań a group of armed policemen interrupted a court hearing when they’ve bursted into the room and demanded the judge to show her documents. They were called by a claimant who lost the case and felt that the court’s decission was offensive to him. It is a mystery why the police agreed to get involved in the matter that can only be pursued from private prosecution. Perhaps the fact, that the “offended” claimant is a right wing activist can shed some light on the matter…
And it is not, that the police is bored and has nothing to do. They are busy investigating Szymon Niemiec, the man, who concelebrated a mass during the Pride March. He is accused of “offending religious feelings” after some bishops called this mass to be a parody of the Catholic mass. The thing is, that Niemiec is an actual bishop himself, although from United Ecumenical Church, a minor religious organisation having approx 5 000 members across the world. Still, the accusations are supported by the fact, that one of the other priests was wearing a colander, being a priest from the Church of Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is not recognized by a Polish state (see more here). I can’t wait to hear more about this investigation, it will be fantastic to see the police and the prosecutors deliberating what does it mean to be a real bishop, which church is real and which is not, and which religious headgear is serious and which is ridiculous and, therefore, offensive.
A Veterinary Inspection in the port of Szczecin tough seems to have too much time on their hands. After failing to find anything wrong with the load of the frozen pike imported by one of the companies, they started to weight single fish and found, that some of them are heavier than in the documentation, and then ordered the whole 20 tons to be destroyed because of that. The importers say, that the institution make it so difficult, that often they rather pay more to have their imports landed in Germany and cleared into European Union there. Reports like that come from every industry, which probably explains why during the PiS government Poland fell by 16 positions in the international ranking of business-friendly countries.
There was one more scandal. I tend not to cover tabloid gossip, but the situation progressed over that. Father Tymoteusz Szydło, son of Beata Szydło and recently ordained priest asked to be relieved from duties. There is a rumour that he turned out to be different kind of father after getting a 16 year old girl pregnant. He hired a lawyer to deny those accusations, and the whole PiS propaganda machine turned to attack people, who “cannot respect privacy of Beata Szydło’s family”.
The problem is, that Tymoteusz Szydło became a public figure after his mom used him in to boost her ratings – his ordination mass, concelebrated by Tadeusz Rydzyk himself in presence of Jarosław Kaczyński, several government ministers, speaker of the Seante and a first lady, took place in Jasna Góra, most prominent place of worship in Poland and the whole thing was transmitted live on TV. Some point out, that it might be too late to ask for privacy.
But the right has the other problems. Newly elected female MP’s asked to have female form of the word “poseł” used in their official documents, which up to now was not a standard. The right tries to ridicule this demand, but I fully understand it. There is a significant difference between “posłanka Zawisza”, newly elected Razem MP and “poseł Zawisza”, with whom we’ve started this chapter…
This piece was written for Britské Listy