The protests in Poland are still going on. Why one might feel that they have lost momentum, it’s not that the anger has died out, although the form evolves. And to ensure, that people’s rage continues, the government/church side does everything to pour more petrol into the fire. Recently, the organizers established an advisory council and presented its postulates. Amongst those are demands such like instant separation of the church and the state and ban on the church receiving public money – which, while sounding radical, is merely a demand for the existing law to be observed – but there also some demands for the government to stop LGBT discrimination or act more on the climate change. What was the governments response? The government minister commented “only thing that’s missing from that list is champagne and caviar” and accused the strikers of “just wanting a revolution, not a dialogue”.
Meanwhile it has emerged, that the government wished to act much more brutally on strikers. The party pressured police to brutally disperse protests, but the police chief refused. Gazeta Wyborcza reported, that this was a wish of Kaczyński himself, but even his close co-workers – such as Mariusz Kamiński, minister responsible for intelligence and special forces – were against it. Nonetheless, the chief of Police is about to loose his job after 11 November – when nationalist celebrations in Warsaw usually take place.
It seems that Kaczyński’s tactic is shared by some in the church. Jasna Góra sanctuary tweeted yesterday: “in the world that is making the apostasy, we begin to think that Christ’s love might be not enough, that we should perhaps use violence to battle the evil”. Does it mean that those hundreds of people who in recent weeks decided enough is enough and rushed en masse to their churches to formally quit the organization will now be “encouraged” to stay with the threat of violence? And who would beat them? Could it be the National Guard – a nationalist militias that answered Kaczyński’s call and stood up to defend the churches from the leftists? Not necessary: when they turned up outside the monastery in Tarnobrzeg, its prior called police to chase them away. Anyway, they don’t seem to be very sure of themselves, judging from the fact that Robert Bąkiewicz, a creator of the National Guard demanded police protection after getting a scare when some protesters placed candles outside his home. As if he could not just establish a National Guard’s Guard, to protect National Guard or something…
Meanwhile the Territorial Army – the new military formation that PiS created few years ago – is being mobilized. Some people are afraid that due to the police refusal to suppress protests, PiS might want to use the soldiers instead: the Territorial Army – unlike the rest of the Army – is legally allowed to be used against civilians which was seen as very controversial at the time of its creation, but PiS dismissed opposition’s concerns as “exaggerating”. Of course the government claims that the soldiers will be used only to help COVID-19 struggle, but so they said about Military Police, and yet we saw them protecting churches and PiS offices from the protesters last week… So far though the soldiers are being posted in hospitals indeed. Their orders is to report about all those empty COVID beds that doctors are apparently hiding from people because they want to annoy government or something (yes, the government narration about doctors sabotaging COVID struggle is still alive and well.)
Anyway, not only public is concerned. Over 200 generals and admirals of Polish army, navy, police, fire brigade, special forces and prison services signed a letter expressing their concern and asking all sides (but, of course, mostly the government) to reconsider its actions in order to avoid violence.
And, let’s be clear about it: soldiers can indeed help. The health service has already collapsed under the weight of COVID, as the government did absolutely nothing to prepare for the second wave of the pandemics, being to busy fighting LGBT people over the summer. Even their last minute decision to build a hospital on the National Stadium in Warsaw has been delayed, after president Duda went there to promote himself and then, after it turned out he has been infected with coronavirus, half of the higher construction team with whom he was taking selfies ended up quarantined as well.
Still, even if the construction goes well, having beds is not everything, you still need qualified doctors and nurses. Famous cardiologist Zbigniew Religa is often associated with the quote that “if you only have beds, at best you can open a brothel”. And since the PiS politics so far was to chase young doctors and nurses away from Poland (“Let them go!” – shouted a female PIS MP a few years back when doctors, frustrated with no government response to their strike in which they demanded not only higher pay, but deep reform of the health service pointed out, that if they won’t be able to have a decent jobs in Poland, they will simply move abroad), doctors are at premium. Warsaw’s mayor Rafał Trzaskowski alarmed that government tries out to buy doctors already working in Warsaw’s hospital offering them much higher salaries if they decide to move to the government’s flagship hospital. Meanwhile other staff cannot even hope for their employee rights to be observed. The job offer for cleaners, preferably from Ukraine, offers 16 zł per hour on 12 hour shifts cleaning COVID wards. And this applies only to hours already worked – if they got infected or need to go quarantine, they will get nothing.
But at least employees of the Sanitary-Epidemiological inspection, the most overstressed service in Poland today, are respected. Deputy Health Minister proudly announced in parliament that the government values their work so much, that they were paid for the overtime they worked!.
The truth is that the health service is in tatters. The ambulance crews report on social media, that they are tied for hours being unable to unload their patients as all hospitals are full. Even in life-threatening situations the patients might have to wait for the ambulance to arrive for long, long hours. Crews of volunteers eavesdrop on the radio communication and try to provide first aid where ambulances are unable to reach – on one occasion a random person turned up as well to jump-start a broken ambulance after its crew reported flat battery. Meanwhile, the government declined offer of help that came from Germany saying, that “we have enough of beds and respirators and we are self sufficient”. And if you don’t agree with it – tough luck: a renown expert just lost his job in Ministry of Health for criticizing government’s response to the pandemics. One can say that all those people who die in the ambulances parked outside hospitals or at homes, never being able to receive helps, will be the victims of PiS’ National Pride. But at least we’ll be able to watch this disaster unfolding in HD: the Ministry of Health is just buying a huge LED screen at mere 450 000 so it can present the pandemic to the media during press conferences.
But of course COVID and women’s strikes are not the only things that going on in Poland. So let’s see what we missed over last couple of weeks, when we focused solely on those two issues:
– in Łódź a historical event took place. Two women got married. It was only possible because one of them, while being in the process of gender alignment, is still legally considered to be male. Despite that, the wedding was initially refused after employees of the registry office questioned it’s legality on the basis that “the groom looks too much like a lady”. So, apparently, in Poland you can be refused even a heterosexual marriage if you don’t look masculine enough for the official’s liking.
– a former manager of Polish State Railways won a court case. He sued his former employer after the board failed to grant him (and other managers) absolutorium despite the company being in great financial position. They successfully proved that this decision was political, as the government wanted to get rid of the previous management to replace them with the PiS nominates. The railways are ordered to pay 30 000 zł to the charity of his choice – which is Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy.
– a pro-government economical magazine awarded Jacek Sasin – the man responsible for wasting 70 000 000 zł on illegal elections that never took place – with a Polish Compass award for “proving, that economical patriotism means, first above all, making efficient, brave and non-compromise decissions”.
– it has been reported that Kinga Duda, president’s daughter, chases owners of the hors drawn hackneys in Kraków and orders accompanying her security officer to threaten them with their ID so they clean after their horses. Surely, clearing horse dong from the streets is a notable thing to do, but is this really the way to enforce it?
– Przemysław Czarnek, new education minister, announces changes. According to him it’s outrageous that Polish academics aren’t able to quote John Paul II or St Tomas Aquinas as the scientific sources and it has to be changed. He promises a strong turn in science towards religious and patriotic values.
– after inciting the war with farmers regarding new law on animal rights, with farmer’s strikes happening all across Poland, PiS decided to give in and quietly dropped it. There will be a new project, somewhere in the future, apparently.
– Roman Giertych, a recently arrested advocate and former political ally of Kaczyński (see more here) never paid in 5 000 000 bail as demanded by the prosecutors, pointing out that charges were read to him when he was unconscious, so he was never properly charges. The prosecutors disagree, but refuse to allow for the court to decide it (probably because they know they are in the wrong). At the moment the sides are in stalemate situation.
– At the time of writing the Polish state TV still failed to accept the fact, that Donald Trump has lost elections in the US. No wonder, as loosing PiS’ strongest (and, apart from Victor Orban, only) ally in the international world is a huge blow to PiS failed foreign policy. So when all the TV stations across the world were informing, that is to early to call the winner, TVP already knew that Trump won. And when it became clear for the world that the winner is Biden, TVP was speculating with some Russian experts about if the elections in the USA were rigged or not. Also Andrzej Duda, so quick to congratulate Trump for his victory in the last elections (and who himself announced his victory in presidential elections based on just some exit polls earlier this year), has only congratulated Joe Biden “a succesful campaign” and said “he is waiting for the electoral college to confirm his nomination”.
– another drama involving hunters: a 16 years old boy has been shot dead in the orchard outside his student halls. The hunters didn’t even bothered to get out of the car and after hearing screams of his colleagues, they drove away. They were captured by the police and claim, as usual, that they thought they are shooting a wild boar. Will someone finally try to sort the mess that Polish hunting is?
– After unexpected decisions of closing the cemeteries overnight, the traders were left with loads of flowers they were unable to sell. Government promised to purchase it from them (see more here) butt it turned out that the new law allows only for purchasing the flowers from the companies. Sole traders are left with nothing. “We simply forgot about them” – admits one of the members of the government.
– Somebody was a forgetful in the counter-intelligence as well. During the tender process for providing electricity to its buildings the agency published all addresses of its locations, including the secret ones.
I guess Vladimir Putin can be happy. He can save money by sacking all Russian spies working in Poland. The Polish government will provide him with all he needs – for free!
This text was written for Britské Listy
Picture: Public Domain (via Pixabay)