“On 17th September 1939, as Soviets entered Poland, the occupants begun to create oppressive judicial system.” – begun his dramatic speech Michał Rachoń, former PiS spokesperson and now one of the leading PiS propagandist in TVP – “Appointed and controlled by Soviets, judges in years 1944-1945 only sentenced to death 8000 people. Communists courts and political police murdered tens of thousands of Polish heroes fighting the occupants (…). They sentenced “Solidarność” members at the orders of Jaruzelski and Kiszczak. Those very people after 1989 suddenly started to call themselves “independent judges” (…). All courts, regional courts to the Highest Court and Constitutional Tribunal, were staffed by collaborators of secret police and people with blood of Polish heroes on their hands (…) Will the June 2017 be the time, when for the first time since Soviet invasion on Poland Poles will regain democratic control over justice system?”
Well, the simple answer is: no. Polish judicial system leaves a lot to be desired, but it is not run by Stalinist functionaries for many years now. First of all, average Polish judge is between 35 and 40 years old, which, if we remember that communism fell in Poland nearly 30 years ago means, that their received most of their education in free Poland. OK, the average age of judges in highest courts is higher, but with the numbers oscillating between 51 and 54 the notion, as if there were still some 110 years old judges appointed by Soviets in 1939 around is a slight overstatement. Even if we believe in PiS’ narration, that kids inherit their parents political views, the position of judges in Poland is not hereditary.
Secondly, if you are looking for former activists of communism regime, you should look at PiS. It is their leading legal expert Stanisław Piotrowicz, who was a prosecutor so valued by communist regime, that the government awarded him with the brown cross of merit for his work. It is PiS’ former deputy minister of Justice, Anrzej Kryże, who as a judge in 1980 sentenced, amongst others, Bronisław Komorowski, later president of Poland, for participation in celebration of 11th November and claiming, that Poland under communist regime is not a free country (under communist regime the independence day was celebrated on 22nd of July, anniversary of establishing soviet-controlled puppet government in Lublin). No wonder then, that party that has such members looks into introducing their own judicial system similar to that of the communist Poland.
So why this absurd tirade by Rachoń? Well, Jacek Kurski’s propaganda machine has to work at the highest output possible to prepare ground for final disassembly of the division of Power by PiS. In their new bill on courts, they de facto put the whole control of judicial system in the hands of one man: minister of justice and prosecutor general Zbigniew Ziobro. They’ve also decided to prematurely terminate the terms of the office of the members of National Judicial Council (except for the ones, that Zbigniew Ziobro decides to keep), that was until now a control body over appointing judges. Of course, since National Judicial Council is a constitutional body, the parliament has no right to sack it’s judges, but who cares, after all the Constitutional Tribunal is in hands of PiS already… So, frankly speaking, after this bill passes Senate (controlled by PiS) and will be approved by president (who is known for being PiS notary, who do not hesitate to break constitution as long, as Kaczyński tells him to do so), democracy in Poland is officially over and we are back to People’s Republic of Poland, except that this time it will be PiS’s Republic of Poland, and instead of communists, it will be ruled by, in all probability, mad men.
Look at Jarosław Kaczyński during last Month-inversary of Smoleńsk crash. Look into his burning eyes, when his mouth mumbles his own name “Jarosław” along with the chanting crowd (from 0:43′ on):
This is not the first time, when Kaczyński allowed himself to be carried away by the crowds that worship him. The difference was that this month participants of the counter-manifestations were written down by the police for chanting “Lech Wałęsa” (Lech Wałęsa was to participate in counter-manifestation along with Władysław Frasyniuk, another legendary leader of original Solidarność movement, but due to health problem was unable to attend).
Jarosław Kaczyński lives in the bubble created by his acolytes. He is spared any contact with real life, being carried around in a limo with tinted windows. When an opposition MP wanted to give him a gift: a pamphlet entitled “Rule of the law: a guide for politicians”, other PiS members shielded their leader with their own bodies:
In the rare situation when he agrees to face questions from journalists from non-PiS media, he runs away at the first moment, when uncomfortable question is being asked, like here, when the journalist pointed out an u-turn he made on the matter of raising taxes:
Luckily for the journalist she was working for private TV station, so her job was not threatened for putting the PiS politician in uncomfortable position, as it was the case of the journalist from Polish Radio who failed to ask only toady questions to the prime minister.
Another member of the government that is being suspected of severe mental problems is Antoni Macierewicz, minister of defence. Bogdan Lis, former opposition member, recalls his encounter with Macierewicz during martial state in 1980’s. He sums it up with a simple alternative: “Either he was working for KGB, or he was crazy”. If we believe Tomasz Piątek, an investigative journalist associated with Gazeta Wyborcza, it is the latter. In his recently published book he tracks several Macierewicz’s connections with Russia. The state reacted instantly, but if you think, that special services rushed to check if the accusations are true, you have to be a new reader of this series. No, the Military Prosecution Office, led by a man placed there by Macierewicz, begun investigation against Tomasz Piątek (which in itself is absurd already, as since he is a civilian, military prosecution has nothing to do with him). The accusations are taken very seriously though. Piątek has been accused of three crimes:
1. using violence and threats in order to force public officer to change his actions
2. publicly offending the constitutional office of the Republic of Poland
3. attacking public functionary.
In a normal country, Macierewicz would simply go to the civil court and litigate Piątek for defamation. But that would mean, that courts would have to check, if the informations from Piątek’s book are true, or at least if he did all his best as the journalist to find the truth. So instead we have a foretaste of how the things will look like when the Polish justice system will be fully controlled by PiS. This threat is being pointed out by all legal experts, but the right wing media have their own authorities. In a PiS supporting portal wPolityce.pl, the proposed change to the legal system are praised by no one else but a former mafia boss.
Strangely enough, the prosecutors are not so keen to investigate Wojciech Cejrowski, a right wing fanatic, who during the radio interview claimed that Ukrainians are murderers and rapist, and when the journalist tried to save the situation pointing that “surely not all of them”, Cejrowski even enforced his claim accusing every single Ukrainian of being so. Yet, according to the prosecution, this action is not an example of hate speech.
Inciting hate against Ukrainians is now a popular thing to do by the government, who strangely enough seems to work together with the Russian propaganda in that field. The quality of Polish propaganda though is much lower, probably due to the purges in public media. There is a shortage of quality workers amongst Jacek Kurski’s subordinates, so TVP fail miserably time after time. For example recently at the official Facebook page of TVP Historia, a history channel of public TV there was an entry to commemorate anniversary of Wołyń massacre’s, when Ukrainian nationalists carried a homicide over their Polish neighbours, killing as much as 100 000 Poles. Unfortunately the picture used depicted a site of the revenge killing carried by Poles, thus completely debunking PiS narration that Poles were only innocent victims during this conflict (the number of Ukrainians killed by Poles is estimated to be as high as 15 000). Despite being removed from TVP Facebook page, this picture was reprinted in several right wing media.
No wonder then, that viewership of the TVP falls dramatically and so does listenership of the Polish Radio. For nearly everyone it is obvious, that Jacek Kurski’s propaganda is simply indigestible to vast majority of thinking viewers, but some PiS activists have other explanation: for example Teresa Bochwic explained falling popularity of Polskie Radio 1 with the fact, that “old members of communist security services no longer listen to it”. How PiS managed to convince Poles that 28 years after fall of communist functionaries of the ancient regime are still so important in Polish political and everyday life is beyond me…
Since public media fail to reach beyond hard-line PiS followers, the other forms of propaganda are needed. For example there is a new law on “de-communisation” of street names. And so the names of the streets that can be associated with former regime are to be changed (and preferably named after Lech Kaczyński of course). It leads to absurds such as situation in Kraków, when PiS councillor demanded the change of name of Dworcowa street (~ Station street) as according to him it is not named after train station, but after a Russian writer Dworcow (Николай Григорьевич Дворцо́в). Others demand to kick out Ludwik Waryński, a prominent XIX century socialist activist, who’s only crime was being portrayed on the 100 zł bank note in communist Poland… In Prochowice even Mikołaj Kopernik was caught in the crossfire, and his street was renamed into a Castle Street (Zamkowa). Let’s hope that there wasn’t any Soviet persona called Zamkow, as that would brought furhter problems for residents of that street…
Some local councils refuse to participate in that madness, as changes of street names often cause significant costs not only for councils, but for local people and businesses, and try to “cheat” by adding new meaning to the old names. And so the streets of 9th May, until now commemorating the end of second world war as celebrated in Soviet Union now become the streets of 9th May, the day when foundations of European Union were founded, and Krasicki street, named after Janek Krasicki, a communist activist became a Krasicki Street, named after Ignacy Krasicki, a writer.
The national anthem also requires some changes, if you believe some PiS MP’s. The line “Bonaparte has given us the example of how we should prevail” should be changed to “Sobieski has given us the example…”. The reason for that is that Poles should not invoke examples of foreign leaders if they have their own heroes (and the fact, that Sobieski’s victory was over Muslim invasion of Vienna is a bonus related to so important issue nowadays…).
Right wing propaganda attacks Poles from every direction now. Patriotic murals, patriotic clothing, patriotic beer, even patriotic beans… Amongst that some messages that prepare ground for further PiS actions – for example billboards with fake doctor claiming that abortion causes cancer – although the government apparently has nothing to do with those, ministry of health seems nothing wrong with the claim that 80% of cancer patients had an abortion before. Luckily, there are always internet mockers who came with an alternative slogan illustrated by the face of dr Chazan (you might remember him from this piece) and claim that 92% of cancer patients were baptised before…
Luckily, not all Poles are satisfied with their child benefit and patriotic beer to the extend, that they would allow PiS to take over their country. As I am writing this words, a huge demonstrations are taking place across Poland, as after Senate passed the new law on courts, only president’s signature is preventing it from going live. But will that stop PiS from taking over Poland? I doubt it. When asked, if they don’t understand that those laws can be used against them when they loose next election, they openly say that “they do not predict any changes in power”. That might be a sign of their arrogance, but it might be also simple prediction based on reality: PiS enjoys a huge support amongst youngest voters, as the Polish youth is now amongst the most right wing in Europe.
Incidentally, just a few days ago University of Wrocław had to issue an appeal to fresh students urging them to do not upload to the university system Snapchat selfies with cartoon animal ears and noses, as those cannot be used as an official pictures on their ID cards. This is one of the better universities in Wrocław, so it’s students are allegedly the best of the best from that generation. And yet, they vote radical right or support PiS, are afraid of Muslims despite the fact that most of them never seen a single one of them and cannot understand if Snapchat is an appriopriate app to make one’s ID pictures. Coincidence? I don’t think so.