As it was to be predicted by everyone with at least half of a brain, the Polish government’s actions at the border with Belarus (read more here) have led to tragedy. In a civilized country, the refugees would make themselves known to the Polish border guards and asked for asylum. But after being beaten and illegally pushed back to Belarus, when they face the barrels of the guns of Lukashenko thugs, they are doing everything to stay hidden from the Polish uniforms as well. Which is not easy, in the remote area full of dangerous woods, bogs, and marshes – the landscape with which people from Africa or Afghanistan are completely unfamiliar. The Border Guard’s Twitter profile, usually bragging about how many illegal border crossings have been prevented informed, had to inform that bodies of three people have been found near the border.
The official reason for deaths is thought to be hypothermia. The prime minister’s office announced that the appropriate legal actions will be taken. “We want for everyone to be treated with dignity” – they tweeted. So good news, everyone: apparently, if you are a refugee trying to get to Poland, you can be treated with dignity after all. You just have to be dead first.
There were reports about yet another body found in Belarus. Belarussian propaganda claims that there are marks suggesting that the body was dragged across the border from Poland. Polish propaganda denies it, but none of those sources are reliable. Apparently, by preventing journalist’s access to the border zone the Polish government shot itself in the foot, as there is no independent way to confirm or deny those accusations.
The freedom of the press is being drastically curbed by the action of this government not only on that field. Remember when the government-controlled oil giant Orlen purchased a network of local papers (more on that here) and its boss, Daniel Obajtek, promised that there will be no changes to their editorial policies? Well, he lied. The papers are being turned into yet another propaganda mouthpiece. Dziennik Zachodni, one of the biggest regional daily published in Silesia had seen 19 journalists (including the whole editorial team) quitting in protest. And this is just one example of many.
The independent journalists have it harder and harder, but still, they manage to uncover new scandals. Like investigation into the property of Adam Glapiński, chief of the National Bank of Poland, who obtained it by swapping a small house with a man connected to the Kremlin oligarchs and declaring the value and size of both properties to be equal (which could be a cheat to avoid paying taxes). Now it has also emerged that he acquired a plot of land next to it thanks to usucaption, and that land is about to gain some significant value thanks to the road that incidentally for some reason is to be built next to it by the State Forests. This is why we need independent journalists. Even if not all of them want to be independent: the never-ending saga of the leaked government e-mails (we first wrote about it here) took another twist after screenshots emerged that suggest that members of government consulted a TVN24 journalist, Krzysztof Skórzyński, regarding their answers to the questions asked by another media outlets. He has since been suspended by his station, but the question still remains: how is it that nobody in the government, shaken by so many scandals unveiled by those hackers, lost their jobs yet?
Meanwhile, the death of refugees is not the only one that shocked Poland recently. On Saturday a tragedy took place also in the camp set outside the prime ministerial offices by the protesting healthcare workers. During a press conference, an elderly man sitting nearby shot himself in the head. According to some sources, he left a letter saying that he took his life in protests against healthcare worker’s strikes as “that strike is a political protest against PiS”.
For some, the death toll is not enough yet. The idol of the Polish anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers, an ultra-Catholic right-wing MP Grzegorz Braun had to be removed from the parliamentary proceedings after he shouted “you’re going to be hanged” at the health minister. The TV journalist Agnieszka Gozdyra invited his party colleague, Janusz Korwin-Mikke to her program and then pretended to be shocked to see that this controversial nutcase fully supports hanging the minister (what are we going to see next week? Gozdyra inviting a flock of chimpanzees to her program and pretends to be surprised when they start throwing feces at each other?).
Apart from Braun, the work in the Polish parliament happens as usual. During the proceedings of the public finances commission Michał Gramatyka, an opposition MP, proposed an amendment thanks to which PiS will be unable to transfer 11 billion zł from the local council to the central government. To everyone’s surprise, the amendment was voted through, which for obvious reasons made PiS unhappy. So what they did? Did they call for a “re-assumption” of the vote under a pretext of some mistake of procedural complication, as they usually do? No. They just put forward another vote – “to bring the work on the bill to the state from before Michał Gramatyka proposed this amendment”. This time PiS won the vote. There you go, problem sorted.
But actually, this might be not so bad idea. It would be much easier if we could simply vote to “bring everything to the way it was before PiS took power” sometime in the future… But, alas, it does not work like that. Still, let’s look at the bright side: at least they voted. This is not a standard in Poland anymore. In one of the local councils in Warsaw, some councilors demanded to know what is a legal basis for the cross to be placed on the wall in the session chamber. Was there a resolution or a vote to do it? – they wanted to know. “Jesus Christ on the cross does not need a legal basis” – answered the mayor.
The church is known for not being too bothered about the legal basis for their activities in Poland. In a recently published book entitled “Gomora – the power, the fear and the money in the Polish church” by Artur Nowak and Stanisław Obirek its authors claim that the church’s yearly turnover is 17 000 000 zł, which for the most part remains under the radar, out of the reach of the public control or the taxman. This is an enormous amount of money. But this also puts in perspective the cost of the PiS government’s love for energy made from coal. As I write those words, the EU Court of Justice ordered Poland to pay 500 000 euro’s for every day it continues to illegally dig in the open coal mine in Turów, right at the Czech border, after the Court ordered it to stop on 21 may (read more on that conflict here).
No wonder that the Polish government starts to realize, that they are in deep shit when it comes to finances. The government even wrote letters to the departments that are facing loss of EU funding due to their resolutions to announce themselves “LGBT zones” and asks them to reconsider.
So why they are so keen to continue burning coal at all prices? Could it be that they are simply very thick? This speech by the PiS MP Maria Kurowska, member of the parliamentary commission for Environmental Protection, suggests that this might be the case:
Oto, czego dowiedziałam się na ostatniej Komisji Ochrony Środowiska z ust posłanki PiS-u Marii Kurowskiej. Zastanawiam się, czy nie pozwać jej za obrazę moich uczuć religijnych. pic.twitter.com/fDGTJlXi2r
— Klaudia Jachira (@JachiraKlaudia) September 18, 2021
She claims that trees have to be chopped down because as they grow older, they stop producing oxygen and begin sucking it from the atmosphere instead. Seriously. That’s what she says. Apparently, the government is doing everything to protect us from leaving in the vacuum caused by those naughty oxygen-sucking trees: according to official data in 2020, Poland exported 1621508 cubic meters of pine timber, and just in 5 months of 2021 781689 cubic meters. That means that in just 5 months of this year Poland exported nearly 20% more than in the whole year of 2016 (when only 646633 cubic meters were exported). This shows the scale of the overexploitation of Polish forests under PiS.
But at least our Minister of Education understands nature. After the European Parliament ordered all EU countries to recognize same-sex marriages from other countries, Przemysław Czarnek explained that his party cannot agree to this, as there are no gay weddings in nature. I hope nobody tells them that there are no heterosexual marriages in nature as well, otherwise PiS might want to ban marriages altogether!
So far, the minister doubles down on his words. “Do I really have to explain to you, that parent is someone who brings their prodigy to this word, and that can only be a woman and a man, not a woman with a woman or man with a man? Those are obvious things, known to people for billions of years” – he said. This wasn’t too nice towards his boss, prime minister Morawiecki, who is a parent to two adopted children (or is he? If we believe Czarnek, he is not). As per the claim that it was known to people billions of years ago, minister Czarnek has still some learning of the earth’s history apparently, but at least he does not claim that the Earth was created 6000 years ago like some other Christian fundamentalists do. It’s always something.
Meanwhile, some people of PiS decided to take minister Czarnek’s idea further. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, the prosecutor who was caught walking naked around the town (see last week’s piece) had been known to have some “extravagancies” before. He had been reported to harass a female police officer before. His colleagues managed to swipe the case under the carpet. But perhaps they are right? Perhaps there is nothing wrong with his behavior because he just follows the “natural law” we hear so much about from the right? After all, in the animal kingdom males rarely ask for consent and just go and try their luck with their females as well. And now he took his pants off, which should also make minister Czarnek happy – have any of you ever seen an animal in nature wearing clothes?
This piece was written for Britské Listy
Picture: Public Domain