The government’s attacks on the speaker of Senate are continuing. The whole propaganda machine seems to be engaged: Internet trolls are going hand in hand with PiS controlled media. “Gazeta Polska” went so far that they printed an envelopes and fake money, urging its readers to send those to the speaker. Central Anti-corruption Bureau (CBA) calls on Twitter for the people who “were involved in corruption practices in Szczecin hospital” (where Tomasz Grodzki, the speaker, worked as a doctor in the past) to come forward. The accusations are most likely to be fabricated – for example certain “Mr Romuald” allegedly claimed that he bribed Grodzki 26 years ago. He remembers everything in detail and so he tells a story of how he was forced to pay him 400 zł. The thing is that 26 years ago 400 zł was worth next to nothing: back then one had to pay 5500 zł for a bottle of milk, 5000 for a loaf of bread, Gazeta Wyborcza was priced at 4000 zł and Škoda Favorit had a price tag of 94 000 000 zł – this was a result of a terrible inflation in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and only in 1995 Poland had a monetary reform in which four zeros were shaved off. Apparently someone fabricating this story forgot about this fact, or was too young to remember it.
But this was not the only handful of sand threw into the gears of this propaganda machine. One of Grodzki’s former patients was approached by the man, who offered him 5000 zł for signing a false accusations against the speaker. This 90 years old man decided to speak up and, unlike most of the accusations against Grodzki, that are anonymous, did it under his real name. It was a brave decision, especially that now government controlled media are attacking him, arguing that someone, who worked in HR department of the Political Police back in the 1950’s cannot be trusted.
Meanwhile the government is still trawling. The CBA demanded to be given access to patient’s database from the time when Tomasz Grodzki was a doctor in Szczecin Hostpital. Which is quite interesting because when a judge from Olsztyn, Paweł Juszczyszyn, who after being un-suspended for trying to adhere to the ruling of European Tribunal and check, if the judge previously assigned to the case has been appointed legally (we followed that story over last couple of chapters of Meanwhile In Absurdistan) is still being refused to see relevant documents because of data protection laws. Which is quite absurd, because the list of people supporting the judge’s candidacy he demands to see should be made public long time ago, after the Ministry of Justice lost the case in the Highest Administrative Court, and the files of Tomasz Grodzki’s patients contain sensitive personal and medical data…
And I don’t understand why CBA has to dig so hard to find something on the present speaker of the senate, if they could easily be successful if they looked at the affairs of the previous one: it had emerged that Stanisław Karczewski (of PiS) has been working in hospital despite being on unpaid leave due to being a vocational senator on full pay – if confirmed, it would mean that he wangled a few years worth of senator’s salary…
But I guess CBA has enough problems already – allegedly over 5 000 000 zł in cash (it is literally a van-load of money) went missing over recent years.
But the alleged corruption is not the only accusations against the Senate speaker coming from the government. After he invited the Venice Commission to look closer into the outrageous law that is being introduced by PiS in order to discipline judges, he was accused of breaking the Constitution. The government argues that inviting international institutions is not his prerogative. I guess though that it will be hard to prove that he went beyond his competences after the deputy minister of Justice wrote a letter to the members of Venice Commission in which he explains to them that their visit is “unofficial” and therefore the government won’t be willing to meet them. He suggests that they instead visit a museum in order to educate themselves on Poland.
The battle for the independence of the judiciary is a serious matter. On 12th of January the judges went to the streets of Warsaw to participate in the “march of thousands robes” to protest against PiS actions leading to submit the justice system to the will of the party. They were accompanied by other lawyers and several delegations of judges from other European countries, as well as crowds of ordinary Poles. Of course the government was not too happy about it and tried to obstruct it as much as possible – so for example in Lublin the coaches with judges were delayed by the very detailed and unusually long inspection by the officers of the Inspectorate of Road Transport. Meanwhile in Elbląg on the day before the march the judges were ordered to put their robes into deposit, so they could not use them on the march.
The members of the government are also getting bashed on Social Media where their claims that the proposed judiciary “reform” is similar to the systems presents in other EU countries are debunked by such renowned experts as prof. Laurent Pech:
Dear @sjkaleta you’re in luck!
I’m an expert on #judicialindependence in French, ECHR and EU law so let me explain why you don’t know what you’re talking about (assuming you’re not here deliberately trying to mislead)
— Laurent Pech (@ProfPech) December 14, 2019
The Twitter exchanges between prof. Pech and PiS legal “experts” show, that they are no match with them not only in legal matters, but also in the field of the twitter teasing.
In other news, pro-government Gazeta Polska awarded a title of “Man of the year”. The title went to archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, known mostly for his leniency on paedophile priests and calling LGBT community “a disease”. I guess he won’t be the last to have achievements in that field – recently it has emerged that a man removed from priesthood over paedophilia accusations has been given job as an archivist in the curia while his colleagues, along with the archbishop, were obstructing the investigation. The priests, apparently, are still above the law in Poland. A couple of years back the readers of this series met a priest from Maria Śnieżna Sanctuary in Kłodzko Valley, who attacked a man with teaser for walking with dog outside the church. He was sentenced for 10 months community service but for two years evaded it under false pretext of health issues. Recently he made news again. Apparently back in 2016 he assaulted a boy who entered the church with the hat on his head. Although both the priest and the attacked boy reported the case to the police, nothing has came out of this. Until now. As recently the attacked boy was accused of “offending religious feelings” as during the brawl the priest dropped some of his Christmas wafers and someone stepped on them.
But the biggest event of last week was 28th Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. As usual the government controlled media were doing everything to smear it’s chairman, Jerzy Owsiak. Wiadomości, a flagship news program of the government controlled TVP, broadcasted a disgusting, nearly seven minutes long material, in which the Orchestra’s charity efforts were mentioned only for some 15 seconds. Rest of the item was trying to blame Jerzy Owsiak for the murder of Gdańsk’ mayor Paweł Adamowicz that took place on stage during last year‘s Orchestra’s finale (see more here). Wiadomości accuse Owsiak of being an opposition puppet trying to instigate hate against PiS (it is commonly thought, that the madman who stabbed Adamowicz was under influence of the government TV that for months carried a hate campaign against Adamowicz, just as they try to do now with Senate’s speaker Tomasz Grodzki). According to TVP if someone is to blame for this incident, it would be Owsiak himself.
I wonder how those people can look in the mirror – during recent days a certain video clip became extremely popular in Polish social media. In this recording from 2014 Danuta Hołecka, today’s Wiadomości TVP anchor and face of all of that disgusting propaganda, interviews Owsiak and thanks him for that her own son’s life was saved by the equipment purchased by the Orchestra:
Jeszcze kilka lat temu, Danuta Holecka dziękowała Jurkowi Owsiakowi… pic.twitter.com/OlSt8ADaty
— Izabela (@izabela1027) January 13, 2020
Despite safety concerns (Mayor of Poznań, who is also a fierce enemy of PiS and Orchestra’s supporter, was advised to wear a bulletproof west) and despite the full blown hate campaign in government media, Owsiak’s charity seems to be going for yet another record this year – donating to it is often considered not only as a way to help Polish hospitals, but also as a way to stick one’s middle finger to the government. This can be clearly seen from the numbers: from year to year Orchestra was recording a steady growth in the amounts collected, but since PiS took power in Poland, the numbers sky-rocketed – before that, the numbers collected each year were in the 50 millions range. In 2016 it was 72.7 millions, in 2017 over 105 millions, in 2018 over 126 millions, in 2019 almost 176 millions and this year new record is expected as well (in our small team in Glasgow, we managed to raise over 8000 pounds – a 1000 pounds more than a year before).
Over it’s nearly 30 years course, Owsiak’s charity managed to change the face of the Polish health service. Top class modern medical equipment can be visible in almost every hospital. Imagine how fantastic Polish health service could be if the government was also willing to invest in the health of Polish citizens. But PiS has different priorities. Last December they pumped another two billions into TVP to support Kurski’s hateful propaganda. This is twice as much, as all the money Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity managed to raise over its 28 year history…
This piece was published in Britské Listy