Brexit, Euro Footbal cup, series of attacks in Western Europe and coup in Turkey overshadowed events in Poland. Only a desperate attempt of state TV ruled by PiS to censor President Obama speech in which he expressed concerns about the state of Polish democracy made it to the international headlines. But while not much news from there gets outside, it does not matter that nothing is going on there. On the contrary, PiS government tries to push forward even harder, happy that Europe’s attention is drawn elsewhere.
In a bid to make a smokescreen during NATO summit in Warsaw, PiS delivered a new bill regarding constitutional Tribunal and forced it through parliament. It’s even worse, as it completely paralyses this institution. Enough to said that while Citizen Rights Ombudsman will not be allowed to take part in Tribunal Sittings, but to compensate for that the sittings won’t be allowed to go ahead without presence of the Prosecutor General. And that is currently Zbigniew Ziobro, Minister of Justice and one of the main engineers of the anti-tribunal coup. I guess none of the readers will be surprised to hear that the ruling of the Tribunal regarding previous legal bill by PiS has still not been published and legally elected judges are still to be sworn.
Another bid that PiS planned to push through parliament was a one that would mean a very significant pay rise for MP’s, members of the government, president and also to introduce life-long salary for the First Lady. This would make them one of the best paid politicians in Europe (when compared to average salary in the country). That obviously caused a public outrage (which propably surprised some of PiS activists, like Marcin Wolski, newly appointed head of the second channel of state TV who claims that PiS government is the best government Poland had for 400 years). Realising that this was a step too far, Jarosław Kaczyński (who voted in favour himself) with a one gesture kicked the project to the kerb.
Despite this setback, PiS MP’s make the most of their majority and openly show their disrespect to the members of the opposition. When a voting card of one opposition member malfunctioned and he demanded a break, he was told that “his vote does not matter anyway”. Even more clear in his intention was another PiS MP who during parliamentary proceedings stuck his middle finger out to the opposition benches. Discussion is impossible as opposition MP’s are shouted at and they are unable to finish sentence without being told to “shut up” etc. It turned out that “democratic packet” promised by PiS during the election campaign can be summed up in one sentence from the interview with Marcin Wolski quoted above: “PiS won, so shut up!”
Outisde the parliament things are getting even worse. A conflict over Unesco World Heritage Site, Białowieża Forrest, escalates. Under a pretext of fighting invasion of the spruce bark beetle, Environmental Minister Jan Szyszko pushes to escalate tree cuttings in the protected areas. This is, to put it mildly, a very controversial claim and it is more likely that he answers to the forrestry lobby run by a pseudo-ecological organizations run by local lumber mill owners. Members of one of such organizations – “Santa” – openly speak to the press about their theories. According to them WWF or Greenpeace are created by Jewish Conspiracy and use European Union as a puppet to destroy Polish forrest. According to them the only hope is that “kind people” will came to Poland from East, just as they did to Crimea, and save us from that madness by occupying not only Białowieża Forrest but the other areas of Poland as well. This organization was supported by the taxpayer in form of a hefty donation by Forrestry Commision.
Minister Szyszko himself had also some unpleasant adventures. It turned out that “an old barn” from his financial statement is actually a luxury home in the converted farm buildings. After the matter gained media attention, someone broke in to it and stole valuable collection of hunting trophies (that also somehow were not mentioned in his financial statement). Yes, hunting thropies, because Polish minister for environmental protection is not only an admirer of lumberjacks but also a keen hunter himself. Of course Minister Szyszko can sleep calmly at night – nobody even dares to dream about some repercussions hitting him for inaccuracies in his financial statement. PiS do not accepts such behaviour but only when the guilty party is from some other party.
This is just a part of the wider tendency to spit in voter’s faces. Another example of such behaviour was when a former communist procurator, rewarded for his good work in 1980, was made a chairman of the parliamentary committee interviewing candidates for the position of the dean of Institute of National Rememberance. After otherwise scandalous, but not unusual in the current political situation, proceedings, where members of the opposition had no chance to use their rights to examine candidates, the choice was made. So from now on, a dean of Institute of Rememberance is a man, who denies Polish crimes on Jews during Nazi occupation. But he is not alone, also Minister for Education in her interview with Monika Olejnik had writhed like a snake to avoid admitting that it was Poles who murdered jews in Jedwabne…
But who cares about history if the new one is written. New rule introduced by Minister of Defence, paranoid Antoni Macierewicz, requires that names of victims of Smoleńsk plane crash (or, as he believes, assasination) have to be read during all ceremonies where army assistance is present. Despite protest from surviving participants in Warsaw Uprising, even it’s celebrations won’t be spared of this absurdal circus. The new narration is that they did not died, but fell in service to the motherland, and therefore deserve the highest honours.
In the new offensive in reconstructing of the history of Solidarity and anti-communist opposition in Poland, real historical figures are replaced with members and friends of PiS. Lech Wałęsa was completely erased from the history at the Berlin exhibition, which prompted German officials to complain about distorting the truth. But PiS ignored this criticizm and at the next exhibition prepared for the NATO summit “forgot to include” such prominent prominent politicians like Bronisław Geremek, Krzysztof Skubiszewski or Aleksander Kwaśniewski. According to PiS narration, Poland (and who knows, perhaps Czech Republic as well) owes it’s nato membership to Krzysztof Czabański and Lech Kaczyński. This had prompted a new wave of internet memes portraying Jarosław Kaczyński in all possible historical settings from leading the Polish army for Victory in battle of Grunwald in 1410, through being one of the Apollo Astronauts to winning Euro…
First wave that took place few years ago was summed up in this popular song:
Scaryingly this is closed to Northern Korean propaganda than to innocent jokes, as sometimes it becomes really disgusting as when a PiS activist told the media that “Party is his fiancee”. Jarosław Kaczyński himself topped the cake with the cherry by claiming in his newly released autobiography that it was not Lech Wałęsa but his brother, Lech Kaczyński, who was de facto leader of the Solidarity.
Well, on the bright side Poland finally has a match for Jara Cimrmann…
This article was published in Britské Listy.
Collage created of public domain/CC pictures.