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US concerns over Polish probe into ‘Russian influence' based on 'insufficient analysis': official

30.05.2023 12:30
The US administration's concerns that Poland’s new commission into Russian influence in Polish politics would interfere in the country’s free and fair elections are "based on insufficient analysis” of the panel’s powers, a senior aide to the Polish president has said. 
Marcin Przydacz uważa, że ustawa o komisji ds. rosyjskich wpływów jest konstytucyjna
Marcin Przydacz uważa, że ustawa o komisji ds. rosyjskich wpływów jest konstytucyjnaJakub Szymczuk / KPRP / prezydent.pl

Marcin Przydacz made the comment in a radio interview on Tuesday.

He was responding to a statement issued by the US State Department the previous day, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

US 'concerned' over planned Polish probe into Russian influence

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Monday: "The U.S. Government is concerned by the Polish government’s passage of new legislation that could be misused to interfere with Poland’s free and fair elections." 

He added: "We share the concerns expressed by many observers that this law to create a commission to investigate Russian influence could be used to block the candidacy of opposition politicians without due process."

"We call on the government of Poland to ensure this law does not preempt voters’ ability to vote for candidate of their choice and that it not be invoked or abused in ways that could affect the perceived legitimacy of elections," the statement also said.  

New panel won’t 'block anyone' from standing in elections: Polish presidential aide 

Speaking to private broadcaster RMF FM on Tuesday, Przydacz, who is a top foreign policy aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda, commented: “What’s lacking here is an in-depth analysis of the regulations by the US embassy in Warsaw.”

Przydacz told RMF FM that the US State Department relied on the embassy for information about the Polish law. 

He added: “Yesterday there were debates about whether people would be blocked from standing in elections. They won’t be. Everyone in Poland already knows it and I am surprised that the US embassy, which provides information to the State Department, doesn’t.”

The Polish presidential aide also said that “the law on the state commission into Russian influence in Poland does not foresee blocking anyone from standing in elections.”

He added: “The commission may only ban someone from holding a public office that involves the management of public funds, following full proceedings and verification by court.”

'No danger' politicians 'could be prevented from running' for parliament: gov’t spokesman

Meanwhile, government spokesman Piotr Müller told private broadcaster TVN24 on Tuesday that “every decision made by the commission into Russian influence in Poland will be subject to court control.”

He reassured viewers that the commission "will not block anyone from standing in elections."

He argued that, under the Polish constitution, “everyone who has not been sentenced to prison, may run for a parliamentary seat."

Müller declared: “There is no danger that any politician in Poland could be prevented from running for parliament due to a decision issued by the state commission into Russian influence.”

Planned probe into 'Russian influence' in Polish politics

Poland's President Andrzej Duda announced on Monday that he had decided to sign a disputed measure calling for the establishment of a state commission to investigate alleged Russian influence in Polish politics.

Duda approved the bill, proposed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, after it passed parliament on Friday on a final vote of 234 to 219, with one abstention, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The president, who is an ally of Poland's conservative government, told reporters that he had "no doubt that the issue of Russian influence needs explaining."

Duda also said on Monday that he was sending the law to the country's Constitutional Tribunal "so it could assess those of its provisions that have raised concerns.”

Polish opposition politicians have slammed the planned probe, saying it is 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.

Meanwhile, the country's governing conservatives have denied that the inquiry is designed to target the opposition.

They have accused Tusk of having been too friendly toward Russia as prime minister from 2007 to 2014 and of making gas deals favourable to Moscow before he went on to become the president of the European Council, a top EU job that he held until 2019, Britain's The Independent newspaper has reported.

Ruling party spokesman Rafał Bochenek told reporters on Monday that “the proceedings of the state commission … will be supervised by the courts, and if the commission’s decisions are appealed against, they will require a final ruling by the administrative court" to take effect.

Tuesday is day 461 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, rmf24.pl

Click on the audio player above to listen to a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek.