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Polish president says gov't breached constitution by sacking state media chiefs

21.12.2023 12:30
The Polish government's decision to dismiss the CEO's of state media constitutes a "blatant breach of constitution," according to the president. 
Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Polish President Andrzej Duda.PAP/Leszek Szymański

Andrzej Duda made the statement in an interview with private broadcaster Radio Zet on Thursday morning.

The president said that Culture Minister Batłomiej Sienkiewicz on Wednesday" breached the constitution in a blatant way" by dismissing the heads of the state TV broadcaster TVP, Polish Radio and the Polish Press Agency PAP.

Duda said that "existing legal regulations were bypassed, which represents a blatant breach of the constitution," and described the government's measures as "anarchy."

The president added that state media were supervised by the National Media Council (RMN) which appoints their CEOs, and so the government would first have to "amend the law on the RMN" before making changes at the helm of publlic broadcasters, the PAP news agency reported.

The Polish government on Wednesday announced that Culture Minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz had relieved the CEO's of TVP, Polish Radio and Polish Press Agency PAP of their duties, as well as dismissing the boards of directors of these outlets. 

Sienkiewicz has also appointed new boards of directors for TVP, Polish Radio and PAP, which in turn have appointed new executive boards, the ministry of culture added in its statement.

It also said that the "necessity and justification" for the move flowed from Tuesday's resolution by the Polish parliament, which called on the government to "restore the impartiality and credibility of public media," private broadcaster Polsat News reported. 

On Wednesday afternoon, the opposition conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which ruled Poland between 2015 and 2023, staged a sit-in protest at TVP against the government's decision to replace CEO's of public media, while Cabinet officials said the action had no chance of success, according to news outlets.

On Wednesday evening, the president issued a letter to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, urging the government to "respect the Polish legal order" in its measures concerning state media.

Tusk replied that steps taken on Wednesday were devised to "restore legal order" and "decency" in public life, in line with the president's intention.

Source: PAPRadio ZetBusiness Insider, AFP