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Lawmakers approve probe into ‘Russian influence’ in Polish politics

26.05.2023 23:55
Poland's parliament has given the final green light to a plan to establish a special panel for investigating "Russian influence" in Polish politics, according to news outlets.
Photo:PAP/Leszek Szymański

The bill, proposed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, passed on a vote of 234 to 219, with one abstention, in the Polish lower house, the Sejm, on Friday afternoon, state news agency PAP reported.

It now needs approval from President Andrzej Duda to take effect.

Polish opposition politicians said the plan to establish the commission was specifically targeted at former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is the leader of the country's largest opposition grouping, the Civic Coalition, ahead of parliamentary elections in the autumn.

Tusk, who is not a member of parliament, was present in the house during the vote, news outlets reported.

Opposition slams proposed probe

Tusk later said that those MPs who backed the bill were “cowards” who "have broken good parliamentary manners and the fundamental principles of democracy, out of fear of losing their power, out of fear of the people, out of fear of being held responsible after the elections,” the PAP news agency reported.

Ahead of the vote, MPs held a stormy debate during which the Civic Coalition’s Borys Budka called the draft law “a disgraceful and Bolshevik bill.”

Lawmakers with the opposition Third Way alliance, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz and Paulina Hennig-Kloska, said the proposed panel would in effect act as “a kangaroo court against the opposition” and called on the president to veto the legislation, the PAP news agency reported.

‘A call for truth’

Conservative MP Łukasz Schreiber retorted: “This commission is not designed to target anyone. It represents a call for truth, a call for us to respect and strengthen the constitution and sovereignty."

The governing conservatives accuse Tusk of having been too friendly toward Russia as prime minister from 2007 to 2014 and of making gas deals favourable to Russia before he went on to serve in Brussels as the president of the European Council between 2014 and 2019, Britain's The Independent newspaper reported.

State commission for investigating 'Russian influence'

Under the bill approved by Polish lawmakers, the state commission for investigating "Russian influence in Poland" would review administrative measures, processes behind the creation, copying and sharing of information with third parties, and the management of public funds, among other areas, according to officials. 

The panel would also investigate measures taken to influence administrative decisions and the processes behind harmful policy decisions, the PAP news agency reported.

The commission’s powers would include the right to cancel administrative decisions "taken as a result of Russian influences;" to ban a person from positions involving the management of public funds for up to 10 years; to revoke a person’s security clearance; and to ban a person from receiving security clearance for 10 years, according to officials.

Friday was day 457 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, rmf24.pl, independent.co.uk