So just as we published the last week’s Absurdistan, the news broke that the prosecutors refused to investigate the cyberattack on the mobile phone of prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek. Some say that this is because minister of justice Zbigniew Ziobro, who has total control over the prosecutors, don’t want his criminal pals who spied on the prosecutor who dared to oppose him to be under any investigation. But perhaps it’s just the prosecution is too busy? After all, together with the police they have so much on their hands.
In Łódź for example someone damaged the figure of baby Jesus in the nativity scene. Damages were estimated at 1500 zł which is actually very interesting, as I browsed a popular Polish auction site and found almost identical figurines for as little as 79 zł. But this was not the only outrageous attack on the Polish church and Catholic values in recent days. Luckily, the other perpetrator, who sprayed some protest slogans on the church wall had been arrested for three months – after all, it’s a serious crime. Offending religious feelings, or perhaps destroying heritage buildings, or causing millions of damage – we don’t know yet, but I am sure the prosecution will make something up.
Or not, as we just learned that to be sentenced to jail time, you actually don’t have to do anything wrong. Like Józef Pinior, the legendary member of the opposition from the 1980 and later a Senator, an MEP, and a fierce critic of PiS, who was arrested by Zbigniew Ziobro’s people on corruption charges (see here) and was later sentenced to 1.5 years in jail for taking the bribes (here). Those were some silly charges, without getting too much into detail I can tell you that the accusations were pretty absurd. Apparently, courts agree with me, as the man who allegedly paid a bribe to Pinior was just found not guilty. The judge went so far as to say that “there is absolutely no proof that Pinior received any bribes” and that the recordings of the private conversations that were used as major evidence were “intentionally misunderstood” by the prosecutors (or, as Pinior’s lawyers argue, the recordings were manipulated, which we know PiS is capable of doing thanks to Brejza’s case described in last week’s chapter.
Pinior’s case is very complicated and I won’t go into detail here, but the bottom line is pretty obvious: Józef Pinior has been sentenced to jail time for taking a bribe that was never given to him. Isn’t it ironic, that the ruling party in Poland is called “Law and justice”?
But sometimes PiS politicians observe the law – to the letter. When a local PiS politician lost the court case after being accused of slander and as a part of her sentence she was to publish apologies on her public profile on Facebook. She did so – with a twist. Instead of publishing it on her regular profile, observed by hundreds of people, she created the new one and published it there for all 4 of her new followers to see…
But sometimes the Polish legal system has its hands tied. For example, our stupid government signed a very unfavorable deal according to which US Soldiers stationed in Poland are outside of Polish jurisdiction. And so when a US Army soldier hired a flat to organize a loud party in there assaulted police officers who came to ask him to tone it down, causing severe injuries (broken nose, arm, and skull) to three of them, all Poland can do is to nicely ask the Americans so they won’t just let him off with a slap in the wrist…
At least we can write about it, which some people are not happy. When a known journalist wrote on Twitter about a pro-PiS judge Marcin Nawacki and his legally doubtfully activities and pointed his hypocrisy, he demanded for her to remove the tweet, arguing that “no court or other institution gave her permission to write about any activities he was involved with”. I promised him I’ll write about him and so I did, but with all his involvement in the illegal activities leading to dismantling the legal system in Poland, I can assure you that this is not the last time you read about him.
Of course, don’t expect to learn about important things from TVP. They are too busy organizing their annual “Hogmanay Concert”. Now, that’s important news. So important, that they were pumping this event in every way possible. One of the main editions of their flagship propaganda (formerly news) program was talking about that concert for over 18 minutes before switching to other subjects, and this was followed by a talk show with two stars of the show. This is of course illegal, so several former heads of public TV and former member of the National Radio and Television Council complained to the Council, pointing out that this is self-promotion, which is illegal (and for which TVP has already been fined before).
Meanwhile, despite TVP propaganda, the Poles see that the “New Order”, the new political-economical program of PiS seems to be not as promised. I observed several of my friends and family members, trying to make heads and tails of it, using some online calculators and studying new regulations, and I haven’t seen anyone who would come to the conclusion, that with the new tax rules they will be better off. A few of my friends consider closing their side businesses, as it seems that if you have more than one job, you are actually worse off. A seasonal tour guide, for example, might not be able to earn enough to offset higher taxes caused by the fact, that she has that summer side job. But it might be also the last nail to the coffin of Polish education: as due to reforms of the educational system introduced by PiS, many schools offered only a few hours per week for teachers of some minor subjects, so they had to play traveling salesmen across many schools or had some side gig to be able to survive. Now such teachers found that their take-home pay is lower by a couple of hundred złotys, which is not much, but teachers are extremely badly paid already, so every penny counts… But it is not only teachers who noticed they are worse off.
The government says that it’s people’s fault for not doing some tax mumbo jumbo, while at the same time already amending the existing laws, it is so complicated that I don’t even try to understand the details after my friend who runs a bookkeeping company told me she considers selling up her business and going back to Britain where she was a waitress some 12 years ago. One thing is sure: the economy is getting in trouble, and the government will do everything to extort money from Poles: for example just as I write these words the infrastructure minister said, that we can’t afford free motorways, so the plan is to make every single kilometer of a Polish motorway a toll road.
The roads are kept clear with the brutality typical for the regime. In Leszno police get a report on a giant snowman placed in the middle of the street. The officers were unable to topple it over with their bare hands, so they had to call the snowplough to deal with it.
But there was some good news too. First: the government grants retirement benefits for dogs working in prison service. The canine officers will join police, border guard and fire service dogs and horses in having their food and medical care covered for the rest of their lives. I know, it’s not like much, but I don’t have many opportunities to praise the PiS government, so I take it.
But the best news is the “devastating” – to quote the Polish primate – downfall in the number of religious young people. The number of religious practices – not only attendance, which was already low but also church weddings, baptisms, and confirmations – amongst the youngest part of the population fell by 30%. The bishops still can’t grasp the obvious fact that this is due to the church getting aligned with PiS for their political activism, the greed of the clergy and blatantly refusing to take any actions regarding the countless paedophilia scandals. Archbishop Jędraszewski for example claims that the church is a victim here, and blames the high usage of smartphones amongst young people. Keep up the good job, Mr Jędraszewski, and in no time the church in Poland will take its rightful place: a completely marginalized institution catering to a small percentage of believers!
This piece was written for Britské Listy
Picture: screenshot from https://leszno.policja.gov.pl/w13/aktualnosci/232492,Balwan-na-drodze.html