The Christmas season started with a bang this winter. The bang was big and loud, and took place in the Police National Headquarters. Luckily nobody died, but the explosion caused significant damage to the building. Luckily despite there being through holes between two floors, there was no structural damage, but the cost of repair will be enormous. And what happened? The chief of Police shoot a grenade launcher.
Jarosław Szymczyk, the chief of Police, allegedly received the grenade launcher as a gift during his visit to Ukraine. He claims he thought it’s a bluetooth speaker, which does not explain why he tried to shoot it – I own a couple of Bluetooth speakers myself and it would never occur to me to try and fire them. But I guess jokes about stupid cops need to come from somewhere.
What is more interesting is that Szymczyk was able to bring his grenade launcher from Ukraine to his office in one of the most secure buildings in Warsaw and nobody realised that the item is, in fact, a loaded grenade launcher. It had emerged that he was let into Poland without a border check – which had been confirmed by the border guard that said that since he travelled on a diplomatic passport and lied that he is not bringing anything into Poland, the check was only a “courtesy one”. It seems also that the rules about security checks when entering police headquarters are not applied to the police chief himself – “some animals are more equal than others”, what else is new – but this whole affair also brought to the public attention the fact that despite being a police chief for 7 years, Szymczyk never declared receiving any gifts as required per law. It would be very unlikely he never received any, as gift exchange is customary between police chiefs from various countries, and during his tenure, he met several of them. Obviously he is not to bother with observing the law – and in that he is actually not an exception, as because it was more like a system based on honesty and there was no real sanctions for ignoring this duty in the law, since PiS took power nobody bothers to register gifts they received any more.
But surely after blowing up a crucial building in the centre of Warsaw Szymczyk will lose his job, you might ask? If you did, I would suspect you are a new reader of this series. Of course, he himself sees no reason to do that. And neither see his superiors, who consider him to be a victim of this whole situation and blame Ukrainians for the incident. Of course, if it was you shooting your airgun you brought illegally from abroad then you will be met with the full force of law, but it’s not only about double standards. Tensions are growing and Szymczyk proved his usefulness by turning the police into Kaczyński’s private army of thugs. And with elections coming, nobody would take over the job knowing that it’s very likely in just a few months PiS won’t be in power anymore. So who better than Szymczyk – who proved beyond any doubt that he is not only willing to break the law for PiS, but is also utterly stupid and has no other options, as nobody sane would employ him after what he did? Have I told you already how I lost all respect for the Polish police? Ah yes, I did.
Although the expectation that the government might change might be too optimistic. PiS proved many times that they don’t care about the law, and they are proving it every day. Like when Mateusz Morawiecki was asked about Julia Przyłębska, the puppet head of the puppet constitutional tribunal. The term of the chief of the tribunal is 6 years, so she should step down by now. But according to Morawiecki (and “every lawyer he spoke with”), she still has two years and she will only be required to step down in December 2024.
So who knows? The canary in the mine will be the Kaczyński case. After he lost the slander case against Radosław Sikorski and ignored the court ruling for a long time now is crying to his followers that he might lose his house, as the court requires him to publish apologies at his own expense, which can cost up to 700 000 zł. Sikorski made his offer that if he apologizes sincerely, and pays a small sum to charity he can forget about the matter, but of course, Kaczyński would never do it. So we’ll see how the matter will develop, as Sikorski has the right to publish the apology himself and then send bailiffs after Kaczyński (if he finds one brave enough to go after the beloved leader).
The bigger test is the sale of the state-owned company Lotos. This second biggest state-controlled fuel provider was fused with the market leader Orlen – also state-owned and PiS-controlled – but due to anti-monopoly laws, some assets had to be sold to a third party. Russia was an interested buyer, but for obvious reasons that was a no-go even before the war, so the company went to Saudi Aramco in a very peculiar way. Not only the Saudis were offered a very low price – according to the experts well under the real value of the company – but the deal was written in such a way that despite only owning a minority of shares, they will de facto control the company and, most importantly, the oil refinery in Gdańsk.
According to a recent news item from TVN24, Orlen refuses to submit the required documents to the investigators from Supreme Audit Office, as if the whole company was above the law as well.
Luckily there is still hope. Some institutions and judges are not submissive to PiS and PiS-controlled institutions. The situation of Mr Zbrożek – a man who campaigns for the creation of the new National Park despite the interest of State Forests that would rather make money by chopping ancient trees around his house – see more in the last chapter – had improved, after the court ruled that the Forests acted illegally by placing a barrier across the only road leading to the hamlet when he and his few neighbours live. “In a democratic state, the state is for a citizen, not the other way round. Citizen is not for them to be punished. It’s the state’s role to make citizen’s life easier” – said the court.
There will be another interesting court case, as Donald Tusk sued TVP – the public broadcaster turned PiS propaganda machine – for a deliberate and long-going campaign of hate against him. He is regularly blamed for everything there, and ridiculed, the station also uses some subliminal messages, like using a short snippet “Fur Deutschland” from his speech in German hundreds of times whenever his name is mentioned, showing his body in a red glow or framing him in such a way that it looks like he has a sniper’s rifle viewfinder aimed at him or that he looks like he has devil’s horns.
Another court case to watch will be the one promised by the minister of education Przemysław Czarnek who threatened to sue right-wing ultra-catholic publicist Tomasz Terlikowski. Why?
It turns out that a local official from Szczecin in the opposition-controlled Zachodniopomorskie department turned out to be a paedophile and a child abuser. When his superiors found out he was immediately suspended and then sacked, and he was also kicked out from Platforma Obywatelska. The system of justice took the case, but the proceedings were not public to protect the victims. This was not good enough for the PiS propaganda machine, which wanted to use it for political gain (“look at them, they attack priests for protecting paedophiles and they have paedophiles amongst them!” or “look, he was promoting LGBT rights and he is a paedophile himself, we were right all the time!”) so they went public with that anyway, which ended up with at least one of his victim’s identities being revealed. Czarnek was leading that propaganda campaign and was criticized by Terlikowski, for which he now wants to sue the publicist.
But as the Christmas season started with the big bang – of the police chief’s grenade launcher – it also ended with a big bang – of the exploding bottoms of the right-wing politicians who watched New Years concert in TVP. The annual event usually comprises of Disco Polo musicians, notably Zenek Martyniuk – former TVP chief’s favourite, some washed-off Polish starlets and usually has a second-tier international star as a headliner.
This year’s star was supposed to be Mel C, a former member of Spice Girls, but as she learned about the TVP hate campaign against LGBT people, she cancelled. That left TVP in a pickle, as their greatest show suddenly lacked a headliner. Luckily turned out that it is possible to book Black Eyed Peas. Luckily for the band, that is, because not only they could negotiate a last-minute premium rate (I guess Orlen, the main sponsor, had to throw a few hundred thousand more), but also had the TVP pinned to the wall so they forced them to agree for the band to display their solidarity with the LGBT community, in a form of a speech and the band members wearing rainbow armbands. They also recorded a clip for their social media in which they stressed, that they are called “Black Eyed PEAS”, and not “Black Eyed PiS”. TVP played along and was like “Of course, it was all agreed, we had absolutely no problem with that because we are very tolerant and all” which angered PiS minor coalition partner, Zbigniew Ziobro’s Solidarna Polska.
The butt hurt – or as we call it in Poland, exploding arses – of those was so great, that if the arses were literally exploding, it would put New Year’s fireworks to shame. The whole twitter was eating popcorn watching how Janusz Kowalski is first outraged about such deviation promoted in TVP on the day of the death of pope Benedict, who was a homophobe, then argues with TVP.info chief Samuel Pereira saying that he would never be able to get a real job, suggesting that Pereira works in TVP not because he is qualified for anything but because he is a faithful servant of Kaczyński (look who’s talking!).
The cherry on that cake was Michał Warchoł, the deputy minister of justice calling LGBT “a deviation” and the band leader lecturing him on tolerance, to which Warchoł answered with a demand to know why Black Eyed Peas has not boycotted Qatar. And to all of that English journalist, Ben Stanley came and asked:
I don’t think we need the answer to that either, do we?
This text is wrtitten for Britské Listy
Pictures used in a collage:
Date by Christmas Hat (CC 3.0)
Pride flag by Benson Kua (CC 2.0)