As I write those words, the Internet is full of pictures of the Russian Ambassador to Poland having a bag of artificial blood smashed into his face. While most of the people cheer for the protesters and think it serves him right (his words on the Russian invasion of Ukraine angered many people), there are also some asking why Polish police failed to prevent this attack and what if someone attacked him with an actual weapon.
Well, Poland tried. The Warsaw magistrate warned Russian Embassy that their idea to organize celebrations of the 9th May in the country where so far over 3 000 000 Ukrainians fleed to (or through) after his country invaded their homeland and commits atrocious crimes against its civilian population might not be such a good idea. The planned celebrations were scaled down, but despite warnings, the ambassador decided to go and lay flowers on the graves of the Soviet soldiers. In my personal view, it was deliberate – the Russians knew that facing the crowds of angry protesters will not end well for the ambassador, and yet they decided to go ahead, advertising their plans widely. I tried to google if the ambassador was laying flowers on the 9th of May in the previous years, and I failed to find a single news item about that, so even if he did, he was keeping it low profile – and I mean really low profile, as I found plenty of information about Russian ambassador laying flowers on the monument to victims of Stalinism or on the 17th of September – the anniversary of Soviet invasion on Poland in 1939.
And what Polish police was supposed to do, if the ambassador – against all advice and common sense – decided to go for a widely publicized stunt? To quote a pope, he was barking too much and he got what he deserved. The protesters were in their right to protest, and the magistrate can’t close half of the town to the public because the representative of a vile regime wants to go for a walk. And while sometimes police can take someone under protective custody, the ambassador has diplomatic immunity. And so he got what he deserved – and what he expected. In the footage, you can see a lady giving him a handkerchief so he can clean himself a bit, but he ignores her, instead of it just standing there, making sure all of the photographers have enough time to take pictures of him covered with fake blood… But while this might work for the internal hate-mongering in Russia, I doubt that this action will sparkle too big an outrage abroad – everyone has enough of Russia already.
Except for the Catholic church, apparently. The Pope’s warm feelings towards Russia and total inability to admit who is an aggressor and who is a victim of this war outraged even some staunch Catholics in Poland, such as politician Szymon Hołownia or publicists Tomasz Terlikowski. But archbishop Jędraszewski for example in his sermon on 3rd of May (which is a day of the Holy Mary Queen of Poland, apparently, but also an anniversary of the first Polish constitution) warned Poles that their hope that the West will guarantee their freedom might be futile, and they should base their strategical decision on entrusting their country safety in a Jewish woman said to give virgin birth to the son of God that lived in Palestine two millennia ago. But, to be fair, he also warned about getting too cosy about Russia, recalling how after the constitution was introduced Targowica Confederation turned to Russian Empress Catherine II for help in overthrowing the newly established order (which was one of the factors leading to the final partitions of Poland). The only thing he forgot to mention was that the Catholic church was on the side of the traitors, but I guess that was not relevant.
Some interesting words came also from Krystyna Pawłowicz, former PiS MP and now a judge of the politicized Constitutional Tribunal. When the opposition pointed out that she failed to fill her asset declaration properly (despite being the one who prepared the law regarding that herself) which (thanks to the law that she prepared herself) could mean she would have to lose her job, she went ballistic with her usual charm and grace: “Leftist MP Tomasz Trela demands to see my assets! You boor! You rascal! You beggar from the church! First prove I was taking bribes! You 5th Russian column! You rag! Or on your knees, crawl under the table and bark to apologize! Only thing that would make” (“Lewacki poseł Tomasz Trela chce ujawnienia mego stanu majątkowego… Ty chamie ! Łobuzie ! Dziadu kalwaryjski ! Udowodnij najpierw, że brałam łapówki ! V ruska kolumno ! Łachu jeden ! Albo na kolana, pod stół i odszczekać ! Was ucieszy tylko seria w nasze plecy…”)
– she ranted on Twitter. So much for PiS’ intellectual elites. Note, how she mentions bribes, when nobody suggested it. There is an old Polish saying “bang the table, and the scissors will sound” – or in it’s English version “if the cap fits, wear it!”
But perhaps we just expect too much from her? We have to remember that our political representatives are just that – representatives of the nation. And we have a nation where young people are so desperate to obtain leaked questions for their Matura exams that they let internet trolls to prompt them to humiliate themselves publicly: users of the online portal wykop.pl created a fake group where the tests were to be leaked and demanded members who wanted to join it that they post a picture of themselves with a colander of their heads. And they were doing it in droves, despite the fact that exactly the same prank was pulled on wannabe cheaters last year (see here). I guess they might be right to fear their exam, as they obviously are not too strong in doing their own research…
Another recent piece of news is singer Beata Kozidrak being fined for driving under influence. The ruling of the court sparked outrage, as some people believe it was too lenient – in the second instance she received a hefty financial fine but the community service order had been dropped, which some people see as yet another example of the rich person being able to buy her way out of the justice system with money. The lawyers argue, that her “artistic achievements” (she is a singer of the popular band Bajm) have been considered as attenuating circumstances, but this only made things worse. I myself can’t think how the court imagine this if she has hit somebody:
– Bad news: your grandma was killed at a pedestrian crossing by a drunk driver!
– Oh no, what a tragedy!
– But there is also some good news, the driver has exceptional artistic achievements, she’s a popular singer.
– Ah, that’s not so bad then.
Luckily for everyone she never hit anyone, as she was stopped on time by another road user who prevented her from continuing on her rampage – she had 0.2% of alcohol in her breath. But then, her “attenuating circumstances” weren’t so good after all as well. When a local PiS politician was driving under influence and hit an 83-year-old woman at the pedestrian crossing, the court decided to drop the case altogether due to the “low social harmfulness of this act”.
The government also has different rules for their own and for others. When the preparations were made for the expected strike of air controllers (see last piece, luckily their demands have been met in full and the crisis was avoided), the airlines were informed that some preferred passenger flights will be given priority. The preferred destination included some cities in Poland and abroad, that happen to be served by the Polish government-owned airline LOT, but the real need of Poles – who travel en-masse using low budget costs – were completely ignored. For example in Britain, only London was considered to be a priority, and there was not a single destination on the list from Northern England or Scotland. Ryanair, which is a biggest provider of passenger flights in Poland of course was outraged by this and filed a complaint.
And of course, as usual, the extreme government’s bias towards the church is also visible. An opposition MP Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus had been stripped of her immunity. Her crime? Or rather an offense? “Placing an advertisement in public space without permission of the administration of the object in question”. What is that about? Well, 4 years ago she took part in a protest against church pedophilia and placed a set of baby shoes on the fence surrounding one of the churches in Toruń.
At the same time, the fight to punish an Ikea manager who sacked one of the employers for his demands to kill gay people is going to the yet higher instance after the appeal to the “not guilty” verdict had been filed by the prosecutors. The government-controlled prosecution claimed that it was a case of religious discrimination because said man based his views that gay people should be killed on the Bible…
But at least Adam “Nergal” Darski, leader of the heavy metal band Behemoth had been acquitted – this time from the charge of “offending national symbols”, after one of the band’s posters had been inspired by Poland’s coat of arms. I already lost count of how many times Darski was in the court answering for offending someone’s patriotic or religious feeling, I am surprised that he still finds time to play music…
But the absurds are not only taking place in the courtroom. The housing market for example is also full of them. Developers found a loophole allowing them to circumvent the minimum size of flats and now race to the bottom offering smaller and smaller “micro-apartments”. Just last month we saw an offer of the 7 square metre self-contained apartment to rent in Warsaw, and then Kraków had topped it with its offer of a 6.7 square metres flat, available to the market for a mere 120 000 zł. I recently purchased a sprinter-size van with an intention of converting it into a camper and out of curiosity I calculated my floor space. It came to 8.4 square metres. And that only from bulkhead to the back doors – driver’s cab not included.
But apparently, Poland has more pressing issues to deal with. Jarosław Jakimowicz, former actor (and then a face of the ads for a scrap catalytic converter merchant), who managed to rescue his collapsing career by brown-nosing his way to become a publicist in the public broadcaster TVP, is still hungry for more publicity. And so on seeing an LGBT rainbow flag displayed alongside Polish one, he borrowed a chair from a nearby restaurant and stole it, transmitting it live on his social media. Apart from documenting himself committing theft, he also caused a lot of trouble for the restaurant, as during the clip he claimed to be a regular there and a friend of the owners, which resulted in the internet outrage against the eatery, whose owners claim that they saw Jakimowicz first time in their lives and were just kind enough to lend him a chair.
And if you are curious how this defender of traditional values and public decency looks like, here is a snippet from his time in the house of Big Brother some years ago:
This piece was published in Brtiske Listy
Picture of Putin: Kremlin.ru (CC 4.0)