After about five years of running this series, I have a feeling that I keep writing about the same things over and over again. Sometimes I lose motivation to write: “if I am boring with the same shit, would my readers in the Czech Republic be willing to read about it again?” – I think to myself. But then, as I look closer, I see that there are some changes. And the patterns emerge. As regular readers might remember, the earlier chapters of this series were dominated by constant crashes caused by the drivers of government limousines. We don’t hear about it anymore. The instant replacement of the experienced officers with the bunch of amateurs had to bring instant results, but apparently, those amateurs had learned how to drive over the years.
Meanwhile, changes to the police are more gradual. Here also we saw experienced officers leaving the service (or forced to do so) in droves. But as this is a much bigger institution with a much more varied range of tasks, the inertia required some time for the consequences of this to become visible. But if you have read the previous few chapters, we are already at the breaking point and the complete collapse of this once reputable service is visible. Just this week I had bookmarked several news items about the police. To not bore you too much, let me just briefly skim over three of them:
– Near Dąbrowa Górnicza some police officers stole coke. No, not the “snort it with your nose to have fun” kind of coke. The “burn it to stay warm” variety. They were caught on CCTV camera – two uniformed police officers loading bags of coke into the boot of their unmarked police car. Of course, if they were shooting grenade launchers in the police station like their boss there would be probably no consequences, but as they stole fuel worth approximately 300 zł, this is the end of their police careers…
– Meanwhile, a local police chief from Włodawa got drunk, vandalized a restaurant, and then tried to barge into someone else’s hotel room.
– There is a press report about companies denying services and products to the police because it does not pay their bills on time.
– Police in Gdańsk has released Spanish divers who had to be rescued after their boat drifted into the sea after an engine failure. The boat was unregistered and illegal – as it was not showing any navigational lights. The divers failed to obtain permission for their operation and the boat contained highly professional equipment worth a small fortune, including an underwater scooter and some underwater drones – basically James Bond-style gadgets. They were using it all in the vicinity of the oil terminal. But as they told the police that they were seeking amber they were released and very quickly left the country. It had emerged later when they were needed for further questioning, that only one of them showed the cops his ID, and all of them provided police officers with the fake telephone numbers.
The chances to find amber by diving in a busy shipping lane in a port, on January night, is of course minuscule, so the questions are being asked if those Spaniards could speak, in fact, with a heavy Russian accent. Unfortunately thanks to the incompetence of the police we’ll probably never know.
But maybe it’s not that big of a loss, as we have enough of suspected pro-Russian actors as it is in Poland. For example, recently a new “grassroots” movement emerged. Polish Anti-War Movement just announced a new media campaign in which they will try to convince Poles that “it’s not our war” using the billboards. It is not clear who will fund this campaign, although we can have a safe guess. Political Scientist Leszek Sykulski, Ph.D. during the previous PiS government was a member of the verifying commission for the military intelligence service. This commission, led by Antoni Macierewicz, ended up in a complete demolition of the counter-intelligence services and was driven by his conspiracy theories according to which the military intelligence was full of former communist agents and people under Russian influence who were aiming to rule Poland from the back seat. Have you noticed the pattern? Whenever Macierewicz gets his hands into something, he always claims to be acting against Russia, or to protect Poland from Russia, but his actions actually end up being beneficial for Russia. This was back then, this was when he was a defense minister and shot down many planned improvement plans for the army (such as a deal for the new helicopters for the army, which was basically done and dusted and as a result of his action years later Polish helicopter park still looks like a museum of Warsaw Pact equipment) and similarly when he was stirring conspiracy theories as chief of the Smoleńsk Plane Crash subcommission…
But back to the topic at hand: Sykulski more recently has become known as a man propagating Russian propaganda and now suddenly he is the face of the campaign aiming to discourage Poles from helping Ukraine. Another face of the new movement will be Sebastian Pitoń, a Highlander activist who made a headline as a face of the anti-vaccine opposition in the Zakopane region… Do you see the pattern here, or shall I go further? Enough to say that Pitoń is so radical, that even his own party Konfederacja is trying to sideline him.
And remember, those are people who still tolerate Janusz Korwin-Mikke in their ranks (although due to his age, Korwin-Mikke seems to be playing the role of an honorary Nestor than of an active leader) and Grzegorz Braun: a man who stole a Christmas tree from the court building and dumped it into a bin because it had some baubles in LGBT and European Union colors.
Of course, it is not only that it’s the radicals that try to gain something politically on Russia’s back. For PiS it’s, as usual, smearing Donald Tusk. “Return of Donald Tusk and preparations of Russia to invade Ukraine happened too close to each other for it to be just a coincidence” suggested Tomasz Sakiewicz, editor of a pro-PiS television channel (yes, they have another one, taking over public media was not enough for them) during a radio interview.
And when it comes to PiS itself, they are too busy changing Poland into a Russian-like state. You don’t often hear professors of law speaking about black holes – this is usually a domain of astrophysicists, and yet this is exactly the expression professor Laurent Pech chose to describe the state of the Polish legal system after 7 years of PiS. This is a damning text, but if the language is too professory for you, you can see the same yourself when looking at the circus on the ground, where the politicized National Judiciary Council was interviewing candidates to the highest court: one of the candidates for example provided letter of recommendation from a bishop, who wrote that she is a practicing Catholic with high moral qualifications. “I can’t separate my spiritual life and moral values from my work” – said the candidate – “My faith is my source of power and the Bishop of Bydgoszcz is a great moral leader to me” – she continued, apparently somehow believing this is a positive thing to say when being interviewing for a role of an impartial judge in Poland’s highest court. But I guess this is not really relevant. The most important question seemed to be about if the new judges are willing to consider Julia Przyłębska and her puppet Constitutional Tribunal a real legal institution in Poland…
With bishops being the ones influencing court rulings in Poland no wonder that this country is turning into Catholic Taliban at an accelerating pace. Several doctors refused to perform an abortion on a 14-years old rape victim with learning difficulties, even though abortion is still legal under such circumstances even after the changes from a couple of years ago. Only after a feminist organization got involved did a clinic in Warsaw agree to fulfill its duty.
To play devil’s advocate here, I wonder how many of those doctors just use the “conscience clause” that allows them to refuse this service as a pretext, as they simply don’t feel competent in that procedure. I saw a gynecologist talking somewhere on social media. He pointed out that there is a generation gap as due to the stigma abortion has since the infamous “compromise” in 1993 that banned it in most cases, the medical academies no longer teach how to do it – the student doctors also have no way to practice their skills… According to him even if the law would be changed, there will be not enough doctors able to safely carry on the procedure or to react to potential complications.
Speaking of law changes, the government tried to change some laws to protect Kaczyński. After he lost a defamation case against Radosław Sikorski, the court ordered him to publish apologies. As Kaczyński ignored the court ruling, Sikorski had the right to publish the apologies himself – with the wording as per the court ruling – and then send bailiffs after Kaczyński to recover the cost. Since publishing apologies in mainstream media go at commercial rates, that would set Kaczyński back about 700 000 zł. According to the new law, that of course would work backward as well, the person forced to apologize could just ignore the ruling and just publish apologies in a government journal nobody reads and pay the fine of 15 000 zł would end the matter for good.
Luckily for Kaczyński such changes turned out to be unnecessary. Sikorski offered him a deal: pay 50 000 zł for Ukraine and he forgets the matter. Kaczyński did it – it was a good investment, as the government-controlled media could spin it as a “Kaczyński supports Ukrainian armed forces” news item without going into details of such donation too much.
Some people don’t need law changes to benefit from the PiS rule though. The newest scandal involves some foundations and organizations (some of them very recently established) receiving multimillion grants to purchase buildings in the center of Warsaw. Also, the Ministry of Education turns out to be generous when it comes to giving away estate to the organizations run by friends of PiS.
The government defends itself by pointing out that during the previous government, an organization had received a castle in Wojnowice near Wrocław. Which is true. There are some important differences tho:
The organization benefiting from PiS generosity are controlled by private persons. What’s more, the buildings are given only on the condition that they have served their declared purpose for five years only. After that time they can be used to rent commercial space, or even sold. It just sounds as if PiS wanted to ensure that their people can survive in relative financial comfort when they lose elections.
Which, if true, might be a piece of good news after all I guess. Because if they are afraid, it means they have a reason to be. Let’s hope, elections are coming this year!
Tekst powstał dla portalu Britské Listy
Zdjęcie: Materiały prasowe Polskiego Ruchu Antywojennego.