It seems Poland is at war. Just recently we heard about our submarine that got almost sank then one of the Polish fighter planes had been shot at and now two tanks have been completely destroyed. And then there is that instance of cyberwar, where the e-mails from the important member of the government had been leaked. So who are we at war with? Russia? Belarus? Or Germany perhaps? Or even the Martians?
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No. It seems we don’t need any enemies, we are apparently at war with ourselves:
– the submarine almost sunk, because of the way it had been repaired by the Polish naval shipyard (it ended with a huge fire which, according to many experts, rendered the vessel unworthy of repair, but the government pushed ahead anyway, as it was a matter of prestige: this is the only Polish submarine that is worth more than it’s value in scrap).
– the MiG-29 fighter jet has been fired upon by another MiG-29 fighter jet, also Polish. There was some mistake during the exercise, and while there should be some fail-safe systems that should prevent such things from happening, obviously something went wrong.
– the tanks went on fire after one truck carrying a tank rear-ended another truck carrying a tank on the motorway. Luckily there were no causalities.
– and even the theory of Russian hackers who stole e-mails from the high ended government official is doubtful, as according to Gazeta Wyborcza the e-mails were actually leaked by one of his coworkers.
But perhaps it was good that those were leaked? At least we now know what the government is up to. Thanks to them, for example, we have learned that the government considered sending army to pacify the women’s strike in October last year. And while experts warn, that those e-mails might be fake, the reactions of some PiS politicians, who bend backwards to tell us, that there is nothing wrong with the government discussing the idea one could be pretty sure, that at least those e-mails are apparently real.
But one thing is undeniable: the whole government either thinks, that using the government’s e-mails and secure phones is too much hassle or simply trusts more e-mail operators such as gmail.com than their own IT services.
The issues of trust are becoming pretty common in Poland recently. A court in Gorzów for example decided to not trust the ruling of so-called “constitutional tribunal”. Referring to the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg it said that the ruling cannot be observed, as the Tribunal was not a court of law, since it included illegally appointed judge, so the human rights of the plaintiff could be at risk (still, it was not enough and the plaintiff, a farmer who’s carrots were eaten by game animals would not get the compensation he demands from the hunter’s association).
If the new ideas of PiS come to light, the Strasbourg courts will have a lot of work. In another cunning plan to boost demographic growth, PiS proposes that it would be illegal to sack an employee who is a father, or an expecting father, but only if he is married. That is not only obvious discrimination (plenty of children come with families in which their parents aren’t officially married) but also can open an interesting field of legal battles. What if my boss tries to sack me, but I’ll tell him I had sex with my wife recently and I might be an expecting father? Will I have to drag my wife to his office for the company gynaecologist to perform relevant examinations, or it would be enough if I bring her pregnancy test? And what would happen if my wife is expecting a child and this is the only thing that prevents my boss from sacking me, but it will turn out that she cheated on me and I am not the father? Oh, if that goes ahead, then the “Absurdistan” series would have to be changed from weekly to daily…
Ordinarily, I would write that it would be better if the government would instead go back to do what they do best, but if we remember that what they do best is crashing cars, it might not be the best idea. We haven’t heard about any new government limo crashes recently, and it would be good if it stayed that way. But it is not that they are not trying. A dashcam camera of one of the drivers recorded a dangerous situation, where a convoy of minister Sasin using blue lights and sirens was blasting through the village, forcing other vehicles off the road. In the same place another PiS politician, Marek Suski, happened to drive – probably to the same destination, a PiS event (why the government ministers are even allowed to use blue lights and sirens to go to the party event?) in the small town of Przysucha. He decided to take advantage of his colleague’s convoy clearing the road ahead and decided to tailgate it at twice the legal speed limit…
Do you think he will be held responsible for his actions? I don’t think so. PiS ignores court rulings and decisions of international bodies that are inconvenient to them as a rule.
The disaster regarding Turów coal mine, which is the centre of the conflict between Poland and the Czech Republic and the UE recently. I was lucky to be able to join my mother and other tourist guides on a special tour of the power plant organized for them back in the 1990s. Even back then the engineer who was showing us around was clear that sooner or later the plant and the coal mine next to it will have to cease operations. But the consecutive governments did very little to reduce Polish dependence on coal energy and when the PiS took power, they made a sharp U-turn: they slaughtered the wind energy industry, they made it difficult for people to make their own electricity using solar power, the work on the construction of the first Polish nuclear plant had been quietly halted and they tried to make Poles proud of their coal, like if we lived in 1960s again. They wanted to build a new giant coal electric plant in Ostrołęka, the ministry forced energy companies controlled by the government to participate in the project, but due to widespread outrage and banks refusing to provide financing, they finally had to give up after sinking 1.31 billion zł in it. In that situation, the continuation of the modernisation of the Turów plant (which had begun under the previous government, but with the direction the EU Climate Policy is going, it is now obvious it had lost even that doubtful economical sense that it had then, as it would have to operate for 25 years or so for the investment to pay off) was crucial for ensuring Poland has enough electricity. There was only one problem. The permit for the adjacent coal mine was to expire in 2020. Instead of going through the proper process of issuing the new permit, PiS, being PiS, decided not to bother, and simply extended the existing permit for the further 6 years. The fact that nobody noticed encouraged them to go all the way and extend the permit up to the year 2044. The decision had to be done hastily, before the new law giving the NGO more ways to protest, so the minister signed decisions even before the consultations were finished.
And PiS hoped it will be alright. After all, it works for everything else, right? The Poles go to the streets, shout a bit, put some funny slogans on the pizza boxes, get bashed by the police and then the new scandal turns everyone’s attention away. Except it did not work like that. While in Poland virtually all the control institutions created to ensure citizen’s right and hold the government to scrutiny have been changed into the puppet theatres of Kaczyński, the fact that the Turów mine lies literally a few hundred metres from two of the neighbouring countries, it is no longer just a matter of PiS playground. And nor the EU, nor the Czech Republic will allow for Kaczyński’s goons to make fools of them and – unlike Polish citizens – they can do more about that than just shout.
And so, if you haven’t had enough bullshit about how the EU is bad and how it is used by Germans and other enemies of Poland to colonise Poland and attack its sovereignty, well, you can literally swim in such a drivel now.
My girlfriend can’t read my pieces anymore. “I have enough of this” – she told me. – “When I was living in Poland back in 2013, we were a rising star of Europe, it was just after Euro 2012, everybody saw Poland as a modern, open-minded country. I can’t watch what my country has become after just a few years of PiS rule” – she says.
And if one wonders, whom should we thank for all those changes, one might want to consult a spiritual leader. Archbishop Jędraszewski makes it clear: “As the Church, as the community that lives according to Christ’s teachings, we have right to thank for that life of late president Lech Kaczyński and Mr chairman [Jarosław Kaczyński] as Gods Children, who rejoices that such people are living amongst them for so many years. This is our duty to thank God for them. It is our duty to thank for the gift of their life given to Poland by God” – he said in one of his sermons.
I guess we should thank God for Kaczyński’s indeed. For that, in his grace, he plagued our country only with two of them.
This piece was written for Britské Listy
Picture: Werni1 via Wikipedia, CC 4.0